The Star (Nairobi)

12 April 2014

Kenya: It's Economic Sabotage, Claim Somalis

MUSLIM leaders have condemned the ongoing police operation in Eastleigh as an attempt to undermine the Somali business community. At a press conference in Jamia mosque yesterday, Muslim leaders led by Mandera senator Billow Kerrow said the operation is intended "to disenfranchise" the Somali community whose "entrepreneurial acumen is known worldwide'.

"This is an economic war and not fight against terror. If it is not, why it is targeted against one particular community in one particular area that is largely known for its business success," said Kerrow.

Another 30 Somalis were deported yesterday morning while another 67 are being held at Buru Buru police station awaiting deportation. Interior ministry officials said another 82 Somalis were flown to Mogadishu on Thursday.

Kerrow claimed that police and intelligence officers were asking businessmen to explain how they afforded to construct highrise buildings in Eastleigh.

Kerrow said businessmen have lost millions of shillings in the past two weeks and asked the government to suspend the operation "immediately." Former deputy speaker Farah Maalim said terrorism is a global problem and said Somalis themselves have suffered most from al Shabaab.

"The Somalis have found themselves between a rock and hard surface. They face double attack by the al Shabaab terror and the Kenyan security agencies," he said.

"We want to know what happened at Westgate, Likoni, Eastleigh attacks. Who were behind these attacks? Were they Somali or even Muslims?" he asked.

"Where is our intelligence system? Must a whole community become a target whenever attacks occur?" he demanded. Wajir county women representative Fatuma Ibrahim described the operation as "primitive."

"Is this how the government wants to win the fight against terrorism? Actually they are creating more terrorists and radicals," she argued. The leaders defended Majority leader Adan Duale against claims by Jubilee MPs that he is blocking the fight against terror.

"Duale, like any elected MP, defended his people against police excesses," said Kerrow. Reading a joint statement by Muslim organizations, Jamia mosque committee member Ibrahim Lethome said the government must "make sure that human rights are protected".

"They are deporting Kenyans. Three of them are my constituents," said Tarbaj MP Ibrahim Elmi, adding they were at JKIA police station for deportation. Security agencies were yesterday on alert following a threatened shutdown of businesses in Eastleigh in protest against police harassment.

The group which is not part of the Eastleigh business community started collecting money on Thursday evening from traders to organise demonstrations.

Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, Somalia ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Ali Nur said the government must respect the rights of Somalis during the fight against terror.

"Not all Somalis are terrorists. Al Shabaab is big and is not only comprised of Somalis," he said. He confirmed that most of the deportees are not Kenyans. "I accompanied the deportees to Mogadishu and they all confirmed to me that they hailed from different parts of Somalia," he said.

Nur said the Somali government would work closely with Kenya to defeat al Shabaab. "The government of Kenya should also respect the rights of Somali Kenyans and provide fair treatment as it would to its other citizens," he said.

"We don't want our people humiliated and we are ready to receive them in our country. We want them back to build our nation together," he said. "We invested heavily in this country. Somalis own businesses that pay millions to the Kenyan economy. That must be protected," said Nur.

He said Kenya is entitled to weed out illegal immigrants saying "No country allows undocumented residents in its country." But he encouraged Somalis to acquire legal documents before investing in foreign lands.

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