By Mohamed Ahmed
September 18, 2018
Kenya became a major partner in the global war on terror in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. In 1998, the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam had been attacked with huge fatalities.
In 2002, terrorists detonated a bomb at a Coast hotel while firing a missile at an Israeli commercial aircraft, which they narrowly missed. In September 2013, terrorists attacked the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, killing 67 individuals of almost a dozen nationalities.
A similar attack was witnessed at the Garissa University College in 2015, when Al-Shabaab killed 147 people, mostly students.
There have been at least 80 attacks over the past five years.
Terrorism has come far since the days of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror (1793–1794), when the rebel Jacobins first claimed that dubious distinction in a large-scale State-sponsored violence that killed 40,000 people.
Maximilien Robespierre, a front-runner in the revolution, declared in 1794 that “terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible”.
The causes, forms and manifestations of terrorism are varied and include religious fundamentalism and ideological radicalisation.
Islamic education is unique in theory and practice largely because of the all-encompassing influence of the Quran. It takes place in mosques, madrasa and Quranic schools. In Kenya, it has led to a duality of education — modern schooling offered in the formal schools and traditional Islamic religious ones in the madrasa.
Religious terrorism is conducted by those whose motivations and aims have a predominantly religious character or influence. Some clerics have, unfortunately, been fingered in the wave of radicalisation in Kenya.
According to Bruce Hoffman, there are three traits to modern religious terrorism.
The perpetrators must use religious scriptures to justify or explain their violent acts to gain recruits; clerical figures must be involved in leadership roles; and apocalyptic images of destruction are seen by the perpetrators as a necessity.
Anneli Botha, in her article, Religious Extremism and Terrorism: Causes, Impact and Counter Strategy (2013), identifies four types of fundamentalism: Theological, political, cultural and global.
Jihad is the form of war that Muslims use to strive or struggle against bad habits. However, the Quran, just as the Bible, contains the clause “thou shall not kill” and expressly forbids the spilling of innocent blood. Terrorists commit acts of terror in the name of Jihad (Holy War) but this is contrary to the teachings of the Quran.
In a project supported by Unicef, the World Bank and several NGOs and CBOs, the National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (Naconek) has committed more than Sh50 million to improve access to education for children from nomadic pastoralist communities, fishing nomadic areas and urban informal settlements in 2017/2018 financial year.
The madrasa can be used to combat religious fundamentalism that may creep in through religious institutions.
Mr Ahmed is the CEO of Lens Media.