Yesterday Thanos at Little Green Footballs highlighted (highlit?) this CNN report about an attempted al Shabaab attack in Kenya. On Monday al Shabaab fighters stopped a bus who’s police escort had broken down, stormed onto it, and demanded that the Muslim passengers get off the bus so that they could easily identify and target the Christian passengers left on board. Things did not exactly go as planned. The Muslim passengers refused to follow al Shabaab’s instructions, the Muslim women gave some of their hijabs to the Christian women, hid the other Christian passengers, and the Muslim passengers told al Shabaab that: “If you want to kill us, then kill us. There are no Christians here”. While there were still two men killed in the attack – one Christian passenger that tried to flee and the driver of a truck that was on the road behind the bus – the al Shabaab attackers left and the other 100 or so passengers and the driver survived. Kenya’s security forces were reportedly in pursuit of the attackers.
The quick thinking, courage, humanity, and generosity of spirit of the Kenyan Muslims on that bus defeated al Shabaab’s attackers and their attempt to impose an extremist interpretation of Islam by violence. The actions of the Kenyan Muslims on that bus in safeguarding their Christian fellow citizens are a shining example of what needs to be done to defeat not just Islamic extremism, but the backlash rhetoric, politics, and extremism that it engenders. Al Shabaab, al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other similar groups can only achieve their objectives/ends (win) if they scare everyone regardless of religion or nationality into providing the ways and means that they do NOT actually possess. On Monday al Shabaab was denied those ways and means and lost! This is how they, al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other extremist groups regardless of doctrine, ideology, or nationality will be defeated: by the basic humanity and courage of the very people they seek to set against each other.