Inter-faith peace efforts in North Eastern Province after Garissa church attack

There are encouraging signs that Kenyans are sticking together in spite of the tensions associated with the Al Shabaab conflict:

Nairobi, Kenya (ENInews). After grenade attacks on a church in northern Kenya blamed on Islamic extremists, religious leaders said they were redoubling inter-faith peace efforts. At the same time, about 100 kilometers away, Christian relief agencies were carrying out humanitarian work in Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp, despite security threats.

Two grenades were lobbed into the East Africa Pentecostal Church compound in the town of Garissa on 5 November, killing two people and injuring five others. The attack has been blamed on al-Shabab militants who are facing a Kenyan military operation in southern Somalia.

“We are alarmed by this blatant attempt by evil forces to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims,” Sheikh Adan Wachu, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims told a news conference on 10 November in Nairobi.

Speaking under the auspices of the Interreligious Council of Kenya, he said the militants had hoped to ignite Christians-Muslims violence, but had failed. He said the faiths were united against groups that misuse religion to cause anarchy and would be preaching that message in churches, mosques and temples.

“We have lived peacefully with one another for long. Therefore we choose not to interpret this as religious war,” the Rev. Joseph Mwasya, a clergyman from Garissa said on 8 November at a news conference.

At Dadaab, many agencies have scaled down since October when threats escalated, but the Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, the director of the Department for World Service of the Lutheran World Federation said on 8 November the organization will continue to deliver humanitarian relief at the camp.

“We have not yet the impression that the current situation in Dadaab constitutes a serious crisis, despite the security risks increasing for the organization; so we should set up a team to respond to it,” said Hitzler whose organization is responsible for housing and security in the camp. The 20-year-old settlement now contains more than 460,000 refugees who have fled war, famine and disease in Somalia.

[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]