Ignorant Republicans continually flood the airways with their incessant demands of “why don’t ‘moderate’ Muslims do more to protect Christians abroad? Why don’t other Muslims stand up to terrorist groups?” The insinuation, of course, is that regular Muslims are silently complicit in the dreadful crimes that radicalized insurgent groups commit under the guise of religion. They wish to paint all Muslims with the tarred brush of terrorism, implying that every one is a ticking time bomb that could be “radicalized” at the drop of a hat. It is discrimination of the lowest and ugliest kind, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Take this incredible tale of Muslim heroism that comes to us from Mandera, Kenya.
A group of Kenyans travelling on a bus from the town of Mandera in north-east Kenya to the capital of Nairobi was seized by terrorists from the fearsome militant group known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (“the Mujahadeen Youth Movement”) or just “al-Shabab”. They unloaded all the passengers off the bus, and ordered them to divide themselves into groups based on religion, isolating the Christians for slaughter.
The Muslim passengers refused, and told them to “to kill [us] together or leave [us] alone.” Confronted with this show of unity and wary of reprisal from the local villages, the militants soon fled. The actions of a few brave souls saved the lives of all, in a heartwarming show of the kind of heroism that Muslims living under the threat of terrorism show every day but are never reported in the American media. Only two died; the unfortunate driver of a truck behind the bus was unable to recite the shahada prayer, and one passenger who attempted to run away. Both were shot on the spot. Fortunately, 62 lives were saved by the collective bravery of the bus passengers. Last year, a bus carrying Manderan teachers was stopped by al-Shabab and all 28 were killed.
“The locals showed a sense of patriotism and belonging to each other,” exulted the Mandera governor, Ali Roba, to the Daily Nation newspaper. “The militants left in a hurry fearing retaliation by residents from nearby villages,” who are considering arming themselves in response to the arrival of an al-Shabab group into Kenyan territory on December 15th – showing that Muslims at all levels of society, from the most remote villages to army commanders, are putting their lives on the line in defiance of Wahhabi terrorism.
Commonly referred to as al-Shabab, the “youth” in their name does not refer to their age but to their origin as a splinter group in the wake of the collapse of the Islamic Courts Union, a deeply conservative Wahhabi militant group that took over half of Somalia in 2006 before an invasion by Ethiopia toppled their nascent state as quickly as it had sprung, shattering the insurgency into multiple terrorist groups – a disturbing lesson that must be remembered when considering any plan to deal with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
al-Shabab is a Wahhabi terrorist organization that has declared their allegiance to al-Qaeda and is suspected of colluding with the other two major African terrorist groups, Boko Haram (literally translated as “books forbidden”) in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in North Africa. They are responsible for the unspeakable massacre at Garissa University in April 2015, during which 148 students were ruthlessly slaughtered and another 79 seriously injured; they also are responsible for the massacre at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, where 67 were gunned down and another 175 wounded. Interestingly, they have rejected the Islamic State, preferring to remain loyal to what little remains of al-Qaeda.
The incredible bravery of these unsung heroes cannot be understated; staring down rifle barrels, they rejected fear and rejected terror, and refused to give up their compatriots. The Republican Party and all the Islamophobic conservatives are shameless cowards; they call for war but never fight themselves; they have never lived with terrorist militias just a bus ride away. They sleep comfortably in warm beds paid for by arms dealers and defense contractors, secure in the knowledge that nobody will come pull them from their sleep to prove their faith with a gun at their temple; yet they still preach hate against Muslims at home and across the world. They are craven fools that know nothing of the world, know nothing of true terror and true fear- except the kind that they encourage against our women’s healthcare providers.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.