Kenya: Suspected of Terrorism
Two men, “Cabdi” and “Khaalid,” had just finished worshiping God at church when three plainclothes police officers confronted them. The officers stripped them naked on the church grounds and searched them. They then dragged the Christians into a car and sped off toward the local police station.
Their crime, however, wasn’t associated with their Christian faith. Kenya is predominantly Christian. Their “crime” was tied to suspicions based on their former Muslim faith and that they were of Somali origin.
The two men remained in custody for 21 days as police continued their investigation of possible terrorism. Officials believed they were withholding critical information about a possible attack. The two denied any allegations, saying they were simply attending church.
“In the beginning, they became hopeless because they knew that there was no way anyone would know their whereabouts,” a VOM worker said. “They were convinced this as well could be the last they would ever enjoy freedom. Then they remembered the only ever-present help in times of trouble – their God.”
Because of the April 2 Somali terrorist attacks on Garissa University College that targeted Christians and left 152 dead and nearly 80 wounded, Kenyans are on edge. They are suspicious of the many ethnic Somalis living in the northeastern part of the country. The new situation is doubly difficult for Somali Christian converts in Kenya, already despised by their communities for leaving Islam.
Initially, Cabdi and Khaalid began praying privately in jail to calm their fears. However, as days went by, they remembered the stories of Paul and Silas in prison. Their prayers turned hopeful and grew louder. They began singing. A Yemeni terrorism suspect and fellow prisoner joined them in song. Within an hour of praying and singing, help came.
“People they knew came to visit them and brought food and told them they are praying for them,” the VOM worker said. “The Yemeni guy was actually stunned and said he believed that their God can answer prayers.”
The Yemeni repeated a song he heard earlier from the two men, saying, “If Jesus says ‘Yes,” who can say “No?”
The next day, the two men were released – without bond.
“It was really amazing to hear testimonies and stories of their miraculous deliverance,” the VOM worker said. “They publicly witnessed in front of Muslims and other terror suspects. When the court asked what they needed, they asked for a Bible and a church where they could worship, while the others asked for a Quran and a place to worship as Muslims.”
At least two local television stations aired the court proceedings, publicly portraying the two men as Kenyan Somalis who converted from Islam to Christianity.
“Their faces and conversion story are public now on the media and Internet as well,” the VOM worker said.
The two men are still required to report to the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) and be cleared through the court of their charges, but they are now out of police custody. VOM booked them into a hotel for two days of rest.
Somali Muslims in Kenya are reportedly taking advantage of the uneasiness following the al-Shabab attack and reporting Somali Christians as terrorists. In turn, it’s increasingly difficult for these believers to find comfort from the Christian community when non-Somalis are suspicious of them. Even their friends, who may be Kenyan, are seen as suspect.
When entering a church, Somali MBBs are subjected to extensive security screenings and suspicion from church members. They’re even asked to change their cultural clothing.
“We have less than 200 Somali believers in Kenya and they live in a state of constant fear and hiding from their communities,” a VOM worker said. “We have been encouraging our local believers to connect with the rest of the body of Christ, but this initiative has been very challenging.”
Source: VOM Sources