Somali Widow’s Life in Danger in Kenya after Reporting Assault to Police

Muslim elders warn Christian mother to drop case.

Bound wound of Somali widow attacked in Kenya for her faith. (Morning Star News)

Bound wound of Somali widow attacked in Kenya for her faith. (Morning Star News)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Islamic extremists from Somalia, upset that a Christian widow would not send her children to a Muslim school, attacked her and seek to kill her because she reported the assault to police, community members said.

Hadiya (surname withheld), 51, said she has had to move house before in the face of violence from her Somali countrymen; two of her adult sons were beaten unconscious as “apostates” in separate assaults by Somali Muslims in Nairobi in 2011. Now she listens to her children implore her to move the family again.

“Please Mum, get us a house elsewhere lest we are killed here,” her 16-year-old daughter tells her.

Having fled Somalia more than 10 years ago after the death of her husband, Hadiya still has six school-age children – two from remarriage, though her second husband recanted his Christian faith amid a wave of persecution and returned to Somalia in 2010 – and they live in fear. No fewer than 10 Islamic elders visited her to warn that she was risking her life by filing a case on the attack. After the assailants were released on bail, a neighbor pleaded with her to tell police that her life was in danger.

Hadiya returned home from a market in the Bulbul area north of Nairobi on the evening of June 28 to find eight Somali Muslims outside her house. One of them, she noticed, was a former neighbor from an area she had left three months before because Muslim neighbors had been questioning her children about her whereabouts when she left for church. Unlike many Somali immigrants who meet in secret fellowships because they are considered Muslim for having been born in Somalia and therefore are now “apostates,” Hadiya openly attends a large undisclosed church in Nairobi.

After she entered her house, her 16-year-old daughter (name withheld) told her that the group outside – three men and five women – appeared to be armed. Hadiya immediately locked the doors; during the recent Islamic ceremonial month of Ramadan, Muslims in the area had pressured her to take her children to a madrassa (Islamic school).

The neighbor from her previous home where she had lived for three years, identified only as Mohammed, and a sheikh (Islamic teacher) had offered to sponsor two of her children, ages 10 and 6, so that they could attend the Islamic school, Hadiya told Morning Star News. They pressured her to buy the children clothes that met the Islamic dress code, she said.

Two days later, the Islamic teacher arrived for a follow-up visit with Hadiya. She refused to comply with the sheikh’s demand, and she said he angrily accused her of “ruining the children.”

Hadiya told him that she had not requested any sponsorship for her children to attend the Islamic school.

Shortly after she entered her house the evening of June 28, the group knocked on the door. Hadiya told them it was late in the evening and that they meet in the morning. The group grew furious, broke through the door and forced their way inside, she said.

“I hid myself under the bed as two women got into my bedroom and pulled me out, dragging me on the floor to the sitting room,” Hadiya said. “Mohammed strangled me, while one lady knifed me on my left leg near the foot, while another [Mohammed] hit me in my stomach. My daughter tried to rescue me but was overpowered and injured her hand during the struggle.”

Hadiya fell down unconscious and bleeding near the door, her daughter said, adding, “I screamed for help, and neighbors arrived to rescue us.”

Once outside, the daughter said, the assailants began shouting, saying, “You are ruining the children, making them kafir [infidel]. We will burn this kafir. The sign of the cross has been stamped on her buttocks. This kafir has been converting our Muslim women to Christianity. You have been following this bad religion for many years, but still you are very poor.”

The assailants lingered outside the house for two hours, discussing how to kill Hadiya and her children, Hadiya said. Her daughter called a family friend, a lecturer at Africa International University (name undisclosed for security reasons) to help them leave the place. At 1 a.m., the friend arrived.

She took Hadiya to a nearby medical clinic, and later into her home. The following day Hadiya recorded a statement at Bulbul police station. The police started looking for the attackers and arrested three suspects: Mohammed and two others identified only as Fatima and Halima. The others had absconded.

The area chief and Muslim elders were said to have provided bail of US$200 for the release of the three attackers.

The friend told Morning Star News she provided accommodation for Hadiya and her family for a week, taking care of their basic needs for shelter, food and medication. When Hadiya returned home, she learned that the assailants had been released. She went back to the police station to complain, she said.

When she returned home from the station, 10 Muslim elders arrived. They warned her that she should drop the case or she would be risking her life, she said.

“Since then, things have been very difficult for me,” Hadiya said. “I feel a lot of pain in my stomach. The doctors are suspecting that my spleen might have been affected. I sometimes faint. A scan is needed.”

A neighbor (name undisclosed for security reasons) recently visited the family and informed them that hard-line Muslims were planning to kill her.

“Muslims will kill you, please go to the police station and report that your life is in danger,” the neighbor told Hadiya.

Hadiya appeared traumatized as she spoke of her ordeal.

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