Of Radicalization and the meaning of words.


By Salah Abdi Sheikh

“Radicalization is a political term used by the Police to refer to Muslim youth” Says lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi.

Remember, Jomo Kenyatta was “the leader of darkness and death”? Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle was called the “Mad Mullah”? If you like Nelson Mandela was the “Black Pimpernel” Mau Mau was a terrorist organization and designated so in Kenya as late as 2003. Mau Mau slaughtered not only whites but also blacks who worked for the Mzungu. ANC was a terror group, “Umkontu we Sizwe” the armed wing of ANC actually committed terror acts like sabotage of infrastructure.

Nyerere was considered a threat to public order and was saved from certain execution by a Somali man and his old jalopy. Sayyid Mohamed Abdulle’s supporters were eliminated through aerial bombardment using the first war planes ever created. No wonder drones are being used to eliminate “terrorists” today.

Historians take very neutral view of events. Noam Chomsky decries the misuse of language to magnify the crimes of the weak and diminish the crimes of those in power. Using the analogy of “emperor and the pirates” he comes to the conclusion that America is the mature terrorist while those throwing IEDs around are just small time terrorists. Those who hijack and rob one or two ships are called pirates while those who rob and massacre whole countries and societies are termed as emperors. The use of language distinguishes the same crime into distinct categories. Truth is, both are pirates.

In Kenya today the picture behind painted is that we are under siege by terrorists. The fact is there are terror activities but not the scale of creating siege mentality. Those who create that siege mentality in the society probably have an agenda. In the terrorist discourse, the most dangerous groups have been introduced, they are called refugees; people who fled a war zone and in search of peace and tranquility.

Again, routing out the terror menace isn’t being treated like a crime but action of conspiracies by specific communities. The temperature of the poor and the illiterate are being raised and they are sharpening the machetes waiting for an order to cut one community to size. The authorities are behaving like emperors out to eliminate a group of dangerous terrorists hiding in the bedrooms of a certain group living in a specific locality.

Ahmednassir’s assertion that “radicalization” has little meaning beyond the “Muslim Youth” has some truth to it. In the world, Muslim men less than 40 years of age find it hard to travel, they are “suspects” by just carrying the name.

States normally don’t allow any challenge to their monopoly of violence. But states do not engage in revenge within their borders. Revenge is saved for external enemies. Internal enemies are cowed through laws, compromises and sometimes just ignoring the issue if it doesn’t threatens the peace.

America tolerates certain groups like the Michigan militia although their declared aim is to protect the people against the federal government. America tolerates gun ownership; millions of normal people have guns. Occasionally shocking gun crimes may occur but mostly it is peaceful. America also tolerates dissent within its borders; watching Fox News you will think they are completely at war. Nobody is jailed for any opinion. That allows the government to focus on external threats to its monopoly of violence.

What’s happening in Eastleigh and Coast is the state feels challenged by faceless terrorists. The state seems to have no intelligence on what’s happening and that has created abuse of Police power. It is like reacting to mosquito bite with a hammer.

In Africa, when your tribes name makes the headline of the local newspaper, find yourself an asylum quick. Vote with your feet, leave the scene and look back. Communities in this country have no problem with one another in themselves but a poisonous perfume has been sprayed for a while now. The latest flare up of terror attacks, assassinations and police raids have potential to ignite the fury of the crowds which may cause serious damage to anything on its way. Nobody would want to find out how that looks like, it is therefore time to repair the leaking roof of the village home, renew the passport, prepare escape route just in case.






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