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Kenya: al-Shabab militants target Christian teachers

Kenya is 80% Christian. There are over 600,000 Orthodox Christians there. The wonderful website Orthodox Christian Initiative for Africa offers regular news on the Orthodox Church in Kenya and all over the continent. But even though Kenya has a Christian majority, the Christians are subjected to periodic persecution there, due to the close proximity of the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabaab. This article demonstrates that al-Shabaab specifically targets Christians. May Almighty God grant relief and protection to the embattled Christians of Kenya.

“In northern Kenya, al-Shabab militants target Christian teachers,” Religion News Service, January 14, 2019:

WAJIR, Kenya (RNS) — After the militant group al-Shabab killed three of his colleagues in a recent attack on Christian schoolteachers here, Jared Nyanchong’i packed his few belongings and boarded a bus to the capital, Nairobi.

“These people call us black Satan, devil and kafir,” said Nyanchong’i, 40, a father of three. “The life of teachers is very important. We love teaching and we can teach in all parts of the country — but only when our lives are not threatened.”

Nyanchong’i is one of more than 1,100 Christian teachers who have fled since al-Shabab began coming across the border into northern Kenya from Somalia in 2017, mostly targeting non-Muslim teachers. While about 85 percent of Kenya is Christian, the country’s north is occupied predominantly by Muslim ethnic Somalis.

In October, the militants hurled an improvised explosive device into one of the two apartment blocks housing Christian teachers at the Arabia Boys Secondary School, killing two….

“I’m very lucky to be alive,” said Elijah Nderitu, who teaches English and literature at the school. “I had a chilling encounter with the militants but I hid under my bed. They wanted to kill all of us who are non-local teachers. I will never teach in this region and I want to be transferred to safer areas.”

The latest attacks represent a return of al-Shabab, which has singled out and killed non-Muslim teachers and students in the past. In April 2015, al-Shabab killed more than 148 Christian students from Garissa University, about 200 miles south of Wajir….

“We have heard cases of locals pretending to be al-Shabab or conspiring with the same group to target non-local teachers,” Wilson Sossion, secretary general of the union, said in a statement last year. “Students have attacked teachers through stoning, clobbering and issuing verbal attacks.”

Cyntia Chepkemoi, a teacher, said she was forced to adopt customary Muslim dress and was told that Sharia law prohibited her from correcting her male students in class.

“It’s difficult to teach them (Muslim children),” she said. “You are forced to wear hijabs before you can go to class. Whatever a male student says or does, it’s right and you can’t afford to correct him. They will beat you and call you all bad names.”…

Bishop Philip Anyolo, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the church will continue to open more Catholic-sponsored and private schools in the volatile region to ensure all children have equal access to education.

“We have mutual relationships with Muslims and we understand one another,” Anyolo told Religion News Service in an interview. “These are criminals who are hiding behind religion and we know. I don’t think there is any religion that supports the killing of innocent people.”

Nyanchong’i, a teacher, disagreed.

“They hate non-local teachers and that’s the reason we are leaving the region,” he said. “You can only become their friends if you accept to convert and be a Muslim.”

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