NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Religious tensions between Christians and Muslims have flared after the government extended amnesty to youth who denounce the Muslim terrorist group al-Shabab, a step Christian leaders condemned.
On Tuesday (April 14), Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the government was giving a 10-day amnesty to repentant members of the militant group if they surrender and assemble at government offices in Garissa, Mombasa or Nairobi.
Hundreds of Kenyan youth from the predominantly Muslim coastal and northeastern regions and Nairobi are believed to have been recruited by the Somalia-based al-Shabab insurgency.
But the move, which comes two weeks after al-Shabab killed 148 mostly Christian students at Garissa University College, appeared to further divide Christians and Muslims.
“We have often turned the other cheek, but now the cheeks have run out,” said the Rev. Peter Karanja, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya. “The government must move with speed to definitely and openly punish the perpetrators of the attacks before Kenyans take the law in their own hands and foment an endless religious war.”Although Muslim leaders say they, too, are victims of terror attacks, Christian leaders feel that Muslims have not been forthright in addressing terror challenges.