Muslims shield Christian passengers in militant attack on Kenyan bus

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Men look out of bus windows, as it travels to Nairobi, in Mandera town at the Kenya-Somalia border, on December 6, 2014. Somali al Shabaab Islamist militants killed 36 non-Muslim workers at a quarry in Mandera, northeast Kenya on Tuesday, prompting the president to sweep out his top security officials in order to tackle a relentless wave of violence. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic 
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-KENYA-MUSLIMS, originally transmitted on Dec. 22, 2015.

Men look out of bus windows, as it travels to Nairobi, in Mandera town at the Kenya-Somalia border, on December 6, 2014. Somali al Shabaab Islamist militants killed 36 non-Muslim workers at a quarry in Mandera, northeast Kenya on Tuesday, prompting the president to sweep out his top security officials in order to tackle a relentless wave of violence. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-KENYA-MUSLIMS, originally transmitted on Dec. 22, 2015.

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Christian leaders have hailed as an act of bravery and selflessness the shielding of some Christians by Muslims after suspected al-Shabab gunmen in Mandera County ambushed a passenger bus.

The gunmen sprayed the bus with bullets, killing two. But when they asked the 62 Muslim passengers to help identify the Christian passengers, the Muslims refused and told the militants to kill everyone or leave.

Defeated, the militants left hurriedly, according to witnesses.

The gesture has since united Christians and Muslims in the county, which lies in the country’s north along the border with Somalia.


READ: African Catholics embrace Jubilee Year as time for Muslim understanding


“I think it’s an act of bravery for the Muslims who risked their lives to protect the Christians,” said Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa. “This is the true meaning of religion, and we congratulate them.”

Kalu said true religion protects neighbors and defends the weak and the poor. He attributed the development to the recent campaigns around peaceful religious coexistence.

Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Alessandro of Garissa said it was a very positive gesture from the Muslims.

“It shows that even the local Muslims do not support the Islamists’ violence,” said Alessandro. “Now al-Shabab knows they have no support.”

Ali Roba, Mandera’s county governor, praised the Muslims’ reaction and said some were injured when they refused to be separated from the Christians.

Ali Hassan Joho, Mombasa’s governor, tweeted: “They demonstrated to the world that Islam stands for peace. This selfless act strengthens harmonious and tolerant relations.”

Sheikh Abdullahi Salat, chairman of the Garissa County Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, said Muslims in Kenya oppose al-Shabab.

“We have often stressed that we don’t support the militants. We have insisted we have no problem with our Christian brothers. This confirms it,” said Salat.

Al-Shabab has launched a series of attacks in Kenya since 2011, when the country’s army entered Somalia to fight the militants. In 2013, the group attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, killing 67.

At least 48 people were killed in Mpeketoni in 2014 after militants attacked villages and a town center. Later that year, the militants killed 28 people, mainly Christian teachers traveling on a bus in Mandera County. Weeks later, the group killed 36 non-Muslim quarry workers.

But the biggest attack was in April 2015, when group massacred 148 mostly Christian students at Garissa University College.

(Fredrick Nzwili is an RNS correspondent based in Nairobi)

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  • George Nixon Shuler

    One wonders, as always, in the United States, home of the most militant christofascist movement (AKA the Religious Right) on this planet, would its denizens as likely shield a gynecologist and clinic patients from an assassin’s bullet? Would they protect a transgender sex worker from a violent john? Would they treat a lesbian couple seeking a wedding venue with courtesy and respect? Would they decry the demonization of immigrants, Muslims, and liberals? Signs point to “No” as the answer to all of the above.

  • “Defeated, the militants left hurriedly, according to witnesses.”

    When people stop thinking about religion and only devote themselves to the immediate needs of fellow human beings – amazing things happen!

    This is true Atheism in action. Human beings matter most of all – not the needs of gods!

  • Robert,

    “True Muslims do not help Christians..”

    True religion kills everyone:
    “Slay all infidels” – Surah 9.2
    “Execute them all” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “Kill the unbelievers in daylight” – Yahweh (Deuteronomy)

    Religion kills.
    Atheism is non-belief. Non-belief kills nobody. The Muslims in this story did not follow their religion because they are above the nonsense of gods.

  • Everyone has a philosophy that guides their life and actions. To many this is a religious belief in a specific God. To you it is less clearly defined to us, by a common name, but it’s there.
    Some see their religion as you see it, darkly, but others, most in fact, see it peacefully.

    And once again, you twist a parable from Jesus’ mouth, about spiritual death to accuse him of advocating violence. You are a one trick pony. At least be honest and give atheism some credibility instead of giving your philosophy a bad name, like so many others, notably 20th century atheist tyrants who killed more people than all the religious wars of the past 2000 years.

  • Marcus Loidolt

    You DO realize, don’t you, that that line was in a PARABLE of Jesus’, NOT a teaching of his?? The Parable of the Ten Minas has been used to teach us how to use our talents and abilities to grow in the service of our fellow man and THUS in the way of truth and holiness.

  • Berto

    “Non-belief kills nobody”… tell that to the victims of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the Kim dynasty…

  • Berto,

    “Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot..”

    These are not examples of Atheism.
    They were dogmatic religious cults; Agrarian, Marxist Proletariat and all were Messianic.

    The only Atheist country on earth today is the United States:
    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion…”
    That is Atheism – it allows everyone to have their own beliefs freely without enforcing any one in particular. And it strikes the perfect balance.

    Protect the US Constitution – it is our only hope.

  • @G Jenkins,

    you twist a parable from Jesus’ mouth…

    No I don’t.
    Jesus is the nobleman in the parable and he is making a veiled reference to his second coming (Parousia), at which time he will instruct his followers to do the sorting as well as the executing.

    Jesus defends murder and violence very often:

    “The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12)
    “Better he be drowned with a millstone” – Jesus (Matt 18:6)
    “And why do you break the command of God
    for the sake of your tradition?- ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ ” – Jesus (Matthew 15:3)
    “I have come to bring fire…such constraints! I am impatient to bring not peace but disorder!” – Jesus (Luke 12:49-51)
    “remove your blessing of peace.” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)
    “Hate your parents…hate your life” – Jesus (Luke 14:26)
    “..gather those who do not abide in me…and they shall be burned in the fire.” – JESUS (John 15:6)

  • I’m not interested in truth or holiness if this is what truth and holiness look like:

    “..gather those who do not abide in me…and they shall be burned in the fire.” – JESUS (John 15:6)

    I choose to be peaceful, loving and kind. Because it is in my best interest and in the best interest of my loved ones.
    I have no religion because these beliefs have been proven to be more destructive than helpful.

    The Muslims on the bus did the MORAL thing not the religious thing.

    Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.

  • By the way – if Jesus was ‘good’ wouldn’t it have been better for him to leave out the last bit?

    Why didn’t Jesus say, “those who do not abide in me shall wither”
    Why did he add the part about burning them? Was that necessary?
    Of course not.
    And that is why I think most of the words attributed to Jesus were actually made up by people who had personal motives in the Bronze age.

  • “True” religious of any believing community should always be willing to step up
    and defend others even Atheist Max.

  • Gordon McQuillen

    im a bit confused by this story. If the gunmen ALREADY knew who the muslims were (the writer didn’t explain how the gunmen knew this fact) then why dud they need those muslims to identify the Christian? Presumably, once the gunmen had pulled the muslims aside, that left the Christians behind — so, what was the remaining task? What were the Muslims supposed to do at THAT point? There’s something –or there are somethings — askew here.

  • I would gladly shield anyone from death. I am a Christian and I would die for my faith but I will not kill for it. During 9/11 I went with a Muslim friend to do grocery shopping to shield her from any confrontation. I am not alone. You focus on only a sliver of Christianity. It is just as unfair as if a Christian pointed to Stalin or Hitler or Mao as the face of atheism. Would you shield Jerry Falwell Jr. from a bullet? Do not ask of others what you would not ask of yourself?

  • So why have atheist not done any collective humanitarian work. Where is the atheist equivalent to the hospice movement, where are the hospitals atheism has sacrificed to build, where are the orphanages they have built, where is the equivalent of the Habitat for Humanities movement (totally Christian in origin and done without governmental funds), where were atheists during Katrina, what have atheists done to end death from Malaria in South Africa (my denomination has cut the deaths in half in the last few years.)? You talk a good game but you don’t get into the game. The average active Christian gives 7% of his or her income to these projects; care to give even 5% to relieving the pain of the world?

  • @Ray Penn,

    “So why have atheist not done any collective humanitarian work…?”

    WHAT !!!??

    Medicens Sans Frontiers / Doctors Without Borders:
    24,000 volunteers (mostly French Atheist doctors!) stopped Ebola this year alone!

    Atheist Dr. Jonas Salk saved 1 Billion people by discovering and DONATING the Polio Vaccine to the world for free!
    Atheist, PAUL NEWMAN , gave away $370 Million to poor children.
    Atheist, OSKAR SCHINDLER, saved thousands of Jews.
    Atheist, BILL GATES FOUNDATION has raised 100 Billions to save children from Malaria & Starvation.

    ATHEISM IS:
    Goodwill Industries,
    Warren Buffet Foundation,
    Oxfam International,
    Rotary International,
    American Red Cross,
    SEED foundation, United Children’s Fund,
    Sierra Fund, National Campaign to prevent Teen Pregnancy,
    Treatment Action Campaign, Women’s Defense League
    US Military Assoc. of Atheists
    Academy of Sciences…

    AND ON AND ON !!

  • @RAY PENN,

    These ATHEIST, NON-DENOMINATIONAL
    organizations ARE SAVING THE WORLD
    WHILE YOUR GOD DITHERS:

    Doctors Without Borders
    The Foundation Beyond Belief
    Newman’s Own
    Goodwill Industries,
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
    Warren Buffet Foundation,
    Oxfam International,
    Rotary International,
    American Red Cross,
    SEED foundation, United Children’s Fund,
    Sierra Fund, National Campaign to prevent Teen Pregnancy,
    Treatment Action Campaign, Women’s Defense League
    US Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers,
    Plan USA,
    National Academy of Science,
    The ACLU
    Jonas Salk Foundation
    Tanzanian Children’s Fund

    Praying accomplishes nothing.

  • SG Kahler

    Establishing isn’t the same as an establishment. Here’s the text:

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  • @SG,

    “Here’s the text..”

    Yes. And it means this:
    The government is FORBIDDEN to establish a religion.
    AND government may not prevent an individual from practicing a religion – so long as that practice impedes nobody else.

    I care about what the Establishment Clause means as well as what it says.

  • Larry

    Well as a Christian who is not a bigoted crazy, you and others like you owe a duty to call out the bad behavior of those in your faith. The silence of moderate Christians when it comes to the excesses of fundamentalists is deafening. Sure not all Christians are like that, but who the hell cares if they aren’t making their presence known in any real sense?

    Coming out to only criticize someone who makes a remark about all Christians is useless. Although NALT (Not All Like That) statements are generally true, they are entirely useless in their defensiveness. Yes its nice you are not like the bigots and haters. But where are you when they are speaking on behalf of all those whose faith you share?

  • Larry

    So what part of cults of personality is unlike religious belief?

    Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and the Kims are simply grander scale versions of cult leaders like Jim Jones, Charles Manson or L Ron Hubbard.

  • John Mason

    As with any group, religious or not, there will be extremists. Unfortunately, the media tends to focus on violent, extremist events rather than the good. “If it bleeds, it leads.”

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