Picture the scene if you can bear to. A bustling shopping precinct where a group of men, women and children are surrounded by armed men. As one of the terrorists moves among them, he demands that the person quailing in front of him names the mother of Jesus or recites the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father which art in Heaven,” says one woman. She is spared. Her neighbour, a Muslim boy, racks his brain for any line of the Bible, anything he has heard in school or on TV. But it’s too late. The boy is shot through the head; put to death for not being Christian.
Imagine the uproar if that ethnic and religious cleansing had taken place this week. Picture the hollering human-rights activists, the emergency session at the United Nations, the promise of action against the perpetrators who had singled out non-Christians for execution.
Yet this is a hellish mirror image of what took place in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. Islamic fundamentalists murdered scores of innocent shoppers for failing to name the mother of the Prophet Mohammed or recite from the Koran – sufficient proof that they were despised “kafirs” or unbelievers.
Radio presenter Saadia Ahmed said she saw people say something in Arabic “and the gunmen let them go. A colleague of mine said he was Muslim and they let him go as well.” But she added: “I saw a lot of children and elderly people being shot dead. I don’t understand why you would shoot a five-year-old child.”
Roughly the same reason you would stroll down a street in Woolwich and behead a young squaddie wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt – which is to say, no reason at all, unless blind ideological hatred counts as a reason.
“You’re a very bad man. Let us leave,” four-year-old Elliott Prior shouted at the gunman in Westgate mall who had just shot his mother, Amber, in the leg. The startled jihadist gave Elliott and his six-year-old sister, Amelie, a Mars bar and allowed mother and children to go after urging Amber to convert to Islam. As if.
There is a photograph of Elliott and Amelie standing next to a dead body, still clutching their unopened Mars bar. The children’s eyes are brimming with what they have seen, and can never un-see. Amid the carnage and inhumanity, an off-duty SAS man went back 12 times into the mall and was said to have personally rescued a hundred people. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil.
We have grown squeamish about using the word evil. We feel it’s a little black and white, a bit too judgmental for modern tastes; but what other description will do for the slaughter of Australian architect Ross Langdon and his partner, Elif Yavuz, a vaccine researcher? The couple was shopping for clothes for their first baby, who was due in a fortnight. The two humanitarians died with their arms around each other and the child they would never meet.
All of this may sound as if it’s taking place at a safe distance. In fact, it’s perilously close and could be coming to a mall near you. There are reports that British-born Somalians were among the gunmen and that Samantha Lewthwaite, aka the White Widow, was leading the attack.
Lewthwaite, who is already wanted for terrorist offences in Kenya, was married to Germaine Lindsay, the July 7 London bomber. She said her husband’s mind had been “poisoned by radicals”. A nervous Britain, bending over backwards to soothe Muslim fears in the wake of the attacks, actually gave Samantha Lewthwaite police protection before she did a runner on a false passport. All the while, it was us who needed protecting from her.
Because the killing of Christians and other “kafirs” took place in a shopping mall and because some of the victims were white, the Nairobi story has dominated the headlines. Another massacre in Pakistan on Sunday barely registered. Some 350 worshippers at All Saints in Peshawar were laying on a free lunch for the needy when two suicide bombers killed 80 people. The attack is part of a savage pattern of assaults on Christians, from Iraq to Egypt.
Why the embarrassed silence when it comes to Islamist persecution of Christians? In Pakistan, a bishop called John Joseph committed suicide in protest at the execution of a Christian man on “blasphemy” charges introduced by fundamentalists. In Germany this week, a Green Party MP of Turkish origin received death threats after urging her Muslim sisters to take off their headscarves and live like Germans.
Here in the UK, we tolerate the increasingly intolerant. It was revealed a few days ago that non-Muslim members of staff at the Al-Madinah School in Derbyshire had to sign contracts agreeing to wear the hijab and make girls sit at the back of the class while boys sat at the front.
Jesus wept. And so should we, quite frankly. Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Muslim Ramadan Foundation, condemned calls to ban the burka, but where is his denunciation of the Nairobi massacre? Where are the voices from Britain’s Somali community condemning the murder of innocents by maniacs acting in the name of their religion?
As a former Sunday schoolteacher, I sort of get the point of turning the other cheek. But, really, enough is enough. Time for a crackdown on fundamentalism in all its poisonous guises. Time to stop appeasing those who hate us and our way of life. Time, in fact, for the clear-eyed moral judgment of a four-year-old child.
“You’re a very bad man,” said Elliott Prior to the jihadist. And he was, and they are.
After Kenya, No More Turning the Other Cheek (Telegraph)
One journalist has seen enough.