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Pressure mounts on govt to stop targeting Somalis in fighting terrorism

10 April 2014, 08:14 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi - A section of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs have condemned Jubilee Government's strategy employed in Nairobi's Eastleigh area to verify the validity of identity cards especially among the Somali community in the ongoing Usalama Operation Watch.

The legislators led by Suna East MP, Junet Mohamed said the staged Usalama operation in Eastleigh, Nairobi's second largest economic hub, is more of economic genocide than fighting terrorism.

"We are concerned and appalled with the strategy the Government has employed to hoodwink Kenyans that they are fighting terrorism by targeting members of the Somali community especially in Eastleigh area of Nairobi city," said Mohamed.

"We have seen a sustained harassment and unjustified extortion of members of the Somali community who are Kenyans by right and not by invitation. Fighting terrorism is not equal to harassing and stereotyping certain members of the Kenyan community," he added.

Mohamed stated that Somalis like any other Kenyans are entitled to enjoy the rights enshrined in the constitution under the Bill of Rights provisions.

"We have in the past witnessed criminal gangs across the country including Mungiki, Sungu Sungu among others, but we have never seen these gangs being associated with a particular community," said Mohamed.

He warned that branding the leadership of some communities as sympathizers of terrorism not only demean those leaders but also undermine people who elected them.

Hon. Abass Ahmed, Ijara MP called for government's immediate closure of the concentration camp at Kasarani stadium noting that innocent citizens with valid national identity cards are suffering in the name of 'awaiting their IDs to be verified.'

"The government should have already freed those with valid IDs and those lacking be taken to court other than confining one community in a concentration camp for five days now and restricting humanitarian organizations, the media, relatives and friends from interacting with them," noted Ahmed.

He warned that stereotyping the Somali community as terrorists would lead to more radicalization of Muslim youths and cause ethnic divisions to polarize the nation even further.

Ahmed urged the Government to use civilized means to identify real terrorists causing suffering to many citizens and apply legal means in dealing with terrorism.

Also present at the press held at Parliament Buildings were Suna MP, John Mbadi his counterpart Ugunja MP, Opiyo Wandayi.

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