To those who always ask if Kenya has an extreme right-wing category in the political spectrum, today you can clearly see them out here baying for the blood of other innocent Kenyan citizens who happen to look a certain way and profess a certain religion.
In the wake of these horrible atrocities meted on innocent, peace-loving Kenyans, emotions abound. But emotions alone will not wage the war on terror, much less mitigate the losses. It behooves us to engage in a sober manner lest we alienate more people by spewing cavalier rhetoric that will do nothing more than multiply radical extremists.
While it was “satisfying” to parade pictures of those dead bodies on social media as a way of bringing “closure” and “evidence” of mission accomplished, the flipside was that to other radicals out there, those bodies were trophies that will be revered as “martyrs!” There is a reason why Osama bin Laden’s body was not shown to the world after his capture and subsequent killing. His adherents, the world over, would have used it as a recruiting tool to galvanize more “soldiers” to go out there and “fight for the cause.”
It is sad that the collective effort to deny the attackers the pleasure of seeing footage or pictures of victims was well executed and then quickly abandoned when footage of the attackers was briskly plastered on social media where their sympathizers could also see them and use them for further future recruitment exercises!
But the resurgence of right-wing extremists is something that must send chills down the spines of many innocent Muslims in Kenya. Talks of rounding them up, mass deportation, and building a wall around the Somali border are straight from the Trumpian political playbook that has largely brought the US government down to the longest shutdown in US history!
All of a sudden, in what are clearly fits of pique, suggestions are being floated around to the effect that people of Somali origin should now be treated as “terrorists.” Losing loved ones is something that nobody wishes upon anyone and we should certainly and unequivocally condemn such barbaric killings of innocent civilians and bring the perpetrators to book without compromising what we stand for a nation by way of our values and laws.
As a nation, we do have a legal architecture that should be allowed to function undeterred. And while at it, innocent Kenyans of Somali origin ought to have the right to enjoy their constitutional rights as prescribed in law. We should not condone or suggest the suspension of habeas corpus on emotional grounds. Lastly, as we mourn our loved ones, let’s not forget that we are one nation.
Mike Dande is a political analyst based in Washington DC.