147 dead students in Kenya and our deafening silence

By ZOYA ANWER

Watching the 8am news is a part of my daily routine now — it helps kickstart my mind as I set out to work, it provides ‘food for thought’ for that part of me that isn’t still numb from working in a newsroom.

Yesterday, as I sipped my morning tea, I was thinking about the Pakistanis in Yemen cheering as the fleet arrived on time, their cheers drowning out the pleas of their ‘fellowmen’ caught in a war forced upon them but, well, at least ‘my people’ were safe and sound.

Little did I know this deep nationalist sentiment would ricochet as the good news was followed by the report of 147 students killed in the Garissa University College campus in Kenya.

I gasped as I saw the number for it instantly took me back to December 16. It felt like déjà vu.

Was it? It had to be. The last time I checked the figure it was around 20.

As the day progressed, I failed to understand the absolute lack of an outcry. This here was the deadliest attack in Kenya after almost a decade. And yet, all eyes fixed on Lausanne, where world powers and Iran were meeting to agree on a framework for a nuclear deal?

Did the students running for their lives in their nightwear just before the break of dawn not matter? To anyone?

I remember how the Peshawar attack shook all of us to our very core.

We rushed to our corners to shed tears silently before bracing for the task of carefully cropping pictures and choosing words. This was Peshawar too, for the militants of Al-Shebab used the same tactics: they attacked students, mostly non-Muslims, to what they called teaching the Kenyan government a lesson for its military intervention in Sudan.

The very name Al-Shebab is ironic because Shebab means prime youth. So cruel were these ‘defenders of the youth’ that they promised the students their lives on the condition that they step out of their dorm rooms and form rows. Once the students obeyed, they were all shot at in the back of the headone by one.

“If you want to survive, come out!” the militants yelled. “If you want to die, stay inside!”

The students’ affiliation with Islam, or the lack of it was also a deciding factor.

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After Iraqi forces take Tikrit, a wave of looting and lynching

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) – On April 1, the city of Tikrit was liberated from the extremist group Islamic State. The Shi’ite-led central government and allied militias, after a month-long battle, had expelled the barbarous Sunni radicals.

Then, some of the liberators took revenge.

Near the charred, bullet-scarred government headquarters, two federal policemen flanked a suspected Islamic State fighter. Urged on by a furious mob, the two officers took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat. The killing was witnessed by two Reuters correspondents. 

The incident is now under investigation, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters.

Since its recapture two days ago, the Sunni city of Tikrit has been the scene of violence and looting. In addition to the killing of the extremist combatant,

Reuters correspondents also saw a convoy of Shi’ite paramilitary fighters – the government’s partners in liberating the city – drag a corpse through the streets behind their car.

Local officials said the mayhem continues. Two security officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that dozens of homes had been torched in the city. They added that they had witnessed the looting of stores by Shi’ite militiamen.

Later Friday, Ahmed al-Kraim, head of the Salahuddin Provincial Council, told Reuters that mobs had burned down “hundreds of houses” and looted shops over the past two days. Government security forces, he said, were afraid to confront the mobs. Kraim said he left the city late Friday afternoon because the situation was spinning out of control.

“Our city was burnt in front of our eyes. We can’t control what is going on,” Kraim said.

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