The killing of Muslim cleric Sheik Abubakar Sharif, also known as ‘Makaburi’, who died in a hail of bullets outside the Shanzu law courts in Mombasa yesterday, may have been welcomed by some but the Kenya Forum has grave concerns about the manner of his death, the reaction to it, and the reporting of it in The Star newspaper.
LIKONI AND EASTLEIGH ATTACKS
Makaburi’s killing comes after the recent attack on a Christian church in Likoni, Mombasa County, on March 23 in which six people died, and of course the death of six people as a result Monday evening’s explosions in Eastleigh, Nairobi.
It is also the case that Makaburi’s death comes after the shooting of cleric Ibrahim Omar last October and before that, in September 2012, the shooting of Sheik Aboud Rogo. Both killings are as yet unsolved.
MAKABURI THE ‘RADICAL CLERIC’
Makaburi was referred to on the newspapers as a ‘radical cleric’ and a ‘fiery Muslim’. If his public utterances are to be taken at face value then Makaburi was a man who deserved to be condemned by reasonable people – Christian and Muslim – for supporting the terrorist attack on the Westgate mall for example. ‘Condemned’ says the Kenya Forum, but not murdered.
MAKABURI KILLING A ‘GOVERNMENT JOB’?
The Kenya Forum, like everyone else, does not know who was responsible for Makaburi’s killing but the almost universal public view today is that he was shot as a result of an ‘extra-judicial’ act by the ‘government’.
IF the ‘government killed him’ perception were proven to be true, this should give right-minded people great cause for concern. Even the perception that it was a ‘government job’ is dangerous in the extreme.
The only way to beat extremists and terrorists in the long-term is not to be dragged down to their level. Kenya is a democracy and a country where the rule of law is at least meant to apply. As such Kenya should set an example as a country where due legal process is followed, human rights protected, and a country where the government doesn’t just kill people. We must be better and different to the terrorists.
CONCERN FOR MUSLIM KENYANS
The Kenya Forum is concerned too that the vast majority of Kenyan Muslims, who are law-abiding, peaceful people who do not support the tiny minority of extremists who kill in the name of their religion, should not feel under threat or ostracized.
NOT STAR REPORTING
Finally, the reporting of such events must be handled with more professionalism and sensitivity by sections of the Kenyan media.
Today’s Star newspaper carries on its front page a photograph of Makaburi’s blood-soaked bullet-ridden body being man-handled into the back of a police truck. This is inappropriate reporting.
WHAT DO WE WANT: THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS OR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE?
If we want to create more ‘martyrs’ then respond to Muslim extremism with the extra-judicial bullet. If we want to nurture the next generation of radicalized Muslim youths then plaster the front pages of our newspapers with a lurid photograph of a bullet-ridden cleric. That way madness lies.
If we want peace and stability the response should be for the government to uphold the rule of law while protecting its citizens; for the police and security services to investigate and take action within the law when appropriate; for the press to behave with responsibility; and for all of us, Christian and Muslim Kenyans alike, to reach out in a spirit of peace, reconciliation and understanding.