By Mani Khawaja
September 25, 2013
Kenya and Peshawar have recently gone through similar tragedies, yet the reactions of their leaders were poles apart.
A mother and her two children lay hidden under the cold meat counter of the supermarket, terrified of being discovered by the militants that had just taken over the premises.
The mother had been shot in the leg and needed medical attention immediately, but her first priority was ensuring the safety of the children.
So when the terrorists made an announcement that if there any children alive in the supermarket, they would be allowed to leave, she made the decision to stand up and announce their presence, even though it could mean certain death for her.
Her four-year-old son Eliot’s protective instincts kicked in and he shouted at one of the attackers,
“You’re a bad man, let us leave!”
Surprisingly, the militant took pity on the family and bizarrely handed the children two chocolate bars before telling them,
“Please forgive me, we are not monsters.”
But what else would you call the men and women responsible for the senseless murder of over 65 innocent people?
Allegedly led by the notorious British terrorist Samantha Lewthwaite, also known as the ‘White Widow’, the militants laid siege to the Westgate Shopping Mall.
They told the hostages that those that identified themselves as Muslims would be let go. They verified this by asking them to name the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) mother. Those from other faiths would not be so lucky.
This ordeal lasted for four whole days and culminated in the deaths of over 72 people, including five terrorists. 11 suspects were taken into custody and one was arrested at the airport, trying to flee the country.
The siege in Kenya might be over, but for the victims and their families, nothing will ever be the same. Kenya has now entered three days of national mourning. The President, Uhuru Kenyatta, while paying tribute to the spirit of his people, said,
“We have ashamed and defeated our attackers. Kenya has stared down evil and triumphed.”
He added that “these cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are.”
Closer to home, victims of the Peshawar church blast are equally trying to make sense of the carnage. The depravity that would cause a person to attack innocents at a place of worship cannot be fathomed.
Sadly, what truly was a national tragedy in every sense of the word, turned into an opportunity for point scoring, with the politicians and the media playing a game of ‘who got there first’.