Garissa: the attack on religious freedom

On Thursday morning, I was scrolling through Twitter to see what was trending. I expected to see some hashtags about the long weekend; what I did not expect to see was a hashtag about an attack on a University.

Garissa University in Kenya was attacked by a terrorist group called al-Shabab. One hundred and forty eight people were killed, targeted because they were Christian. Kenya experienced a tense Easter, Yahoo reported, with armed guards at their churches because of the nature of the attack.

Hearing about attacks like this one make me incredibly shocked and sad. The people killed did nothing wrong: they had every right to freely practice their religion. I wish there was more of a general consensus throughout the world  that it is okay to have a religion that may be different than that of your neighbor.

Unfortunately this tragedy goes to show that many people do not share that belief. In recent months, we have seen far too many terror attacks where the perpetrators are driven by their religion to harm people of other religions.

In my English class last semester, we had a conversation about religion. I was amazed at the maturity with which my classmates expressed their perspectives, even when they differed from those of other people. In that classroom, we had so many contrasting views; yet no one raised their voice, and no one put down someone else’s religion. No one tried to assert that their religion was the best one, and no one discriminated against anyone else based on their religion.

Ghandi said “God has no religion.” Many humans do, though. If everyone in the world could act as my classmates did in that discussion, the world would be a much better place. We have a long way to go – the horrid attack on Garissa University shows this.

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the friends and families of the victims of the Garissa attack, as well as the students who survived the traumatizing experience. I know the attack is not my fault but I will apologize nonetheless.

I am sorry that there are people in the world who see religion as a barrier.I am sorry that in the 21st century not everyone accepts the fact that it is okay to not share the same beliefs. And lastly, I am sorry that 148 families spent Easter grieving the loss of a loved one because of religious differences.

“My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” These are the wise words of Dalai Lama. Practicing kindness means viewing other religions as equals, not inferior, or threats. It means respecting other religions and other people, and it means extending sympathy to people who now suffer because someone else was not kind. I believe if we all made a conscious decision to abide by those words, we could very well change the world.

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21 thoughts on “Garissa: the attack on religious freedom

  1. The events of that day are indeed quite tragic. Inspiration can come from knowing that people have died for what they believe in. It does not make up for the event, but it is a tiny speck of hope in this crazy world. I enjoyed your post.

  2. I like the quote by Gandhi – if only people would look at the bigger picture, instead of letting petty differences divide them. My heart feels for the victims of the terrible tragedy.

  3. I agree with everything you said, except one – not all religions are equal, at least to their members. I personally believe as a Christian that the only true religions are those whose members acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. So, to me, Christianity is more important than the other religions. THAT BEING SAID (in all caps so that people will read the rest of this before they start telling me how narrow minded I am – and if you knew me at all you would know I am not narrow minded), I realize that other people believe that their religion is the one true path to God and look at my religion as less important than their religion. I am okay with that. I think everyone should have a right to choose their faith and I am horrified at the many, many crimes done in the name of religion. People forget that God wants us to CHOOSE Him, not have other people forced to pay lip service to something in fear of their lives, or to die because they refuse to believe something. I am grateful every time I read about something like the Garissa massacre to live in the United States where our forefathers had the good sense to recognize that many different faiths were mingling and would mingle in our country.

    Nancy
    http://www.workingmomadventures.com

    1. Hi Nancy! That’s an interesting point which I’m glad you raised. I suppose it makes sense that not all religions are equal in the eyes of their members; this does not mean not valuing other religions is acceptable, obviously (which, as we see from this tragedy, is a big problem). I agree that the freedom to choose one’s own religion is incredibly important, and I too am grateful to be around people who share that view. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  4. Nice one, great post and it sounds like you have a great class that you are in right now and may those students reach out and share what they have experienced and pass on the kind of tolerance the world needs more of.

    Keep on
    love brett fish

    1. Thanks Brett! The class actually ended as a new semester has started, but it was a really great class that I was lucky to be in. I hope my classmate’s inspiring words and actions can inspire other people to adapt similar views!! Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. That’s so sad to hear. I have some family over there acting as missionaries and setting up schools and living spaces and finding the simple necessities for life that so many people in Kenya missed out on, and they were deeply troubled and affected by the attack on the university too. I think people tend to see religion as more than simply a belief system or way of life, but as an excuse to impart through violence or ill will their own beliefs on others. And while I would argue that most religions tend to acknowledge the importance of diversity and respect for others, unfortunately there are so many religions out there that are so steeped in the culture that it’s not simply about respecting another’s opinion–it’s about domination of creed, and adherence to specific cultural laws that don’t even have anything to do with the heart of the religion for which they’re advocating in the first place. That’s where things get violent and sticky and hate crimes rise. One shouldn’t be an advocate for Religion, one should be an advocate for Community and Love. THAT’S how the world is changed. I completely agree… the world NEEDS more kindness. We simply can’t live without it.

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