“This is terrible news for Christians living and working in Kenya. They already live with increased fear and anxiety. Now with this threat, it is clear that al-Shabaab will be increasing attacks on Christians who are simply trying to provide for their families.”
The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has “ordered” Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya.
In a 20-minute audio clip posted online, al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, urged Somali-Kenyans to evict all non-Muslims living and working in Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera if they do not leave of their own free will, to allow local Muslims to get all local jobs, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.
“Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers,” Dhere said in the audio clip posted online.
The three counties that border Somalia in the northeast are dominated by Somalis who migrated to Kenya because of the war and violence in Somalia.
Reacting to news of the warning, Reverend Cosmas Mwinzi of the Assemblies of God in Garissa said, “This is not news at all because the conduct of the local people here has always suggested that they want us to leave. This region has been unstable for years due to war in Somalia and hatred against non-locals who are mostly Christians. The levels of education and infrastructure in the three counties are low and it is only through the expertise and hard work of the non-locals that the living standard of the Somali people in Kenya can improve. We have non-locals in all sectors, from health to education.”
In January, three Christian teachers were murdered in the town of Kamuthe in Garissa County during an attack carried out by al-Shabaab on a primary school. As a result, many non-local teachers were already being transferred to other schools outside northeastern Kenya, or teachers themselves were requesting transfers.
“This release is terrible news for Christians living and working in eastern Kenya,” Nathan Johnson, ICC’s regional manager for Africa, said. “They already live with increased fear and anxiety, as many have had to travel to find work. Now with this threat, it is clear that al-Shabaab will be increasing attacks on Christians who are simply trying to provide for their families.”