Violent Extremism is steadily and at an alarming rate finding its space in Kenya and most especially among the youth. Even worrying is the fact that this radicalization is now geared more towards terrorism with more and more youth empathizing with terror acts and joining terrorism groups like Al shabab, Boko Haram, ISIS and others
It is from this footing that we sought to understand why the youth and especially in Eastleigh and Majengo, where most complains have risen on Violent Extremism had chosen this path. According to Ali and his peers, unemployment has been the biggest factor with these terrorist groups offering bounty rewards for those willing to join them. Others also said poverty has pushed them unwillingly to such groups.
Their narrations of the constant Harassment and unlawful arrests by the police who accuse them of being terrorists were filled with bitterness. Some even pinning mysterious disappearance and extra judicial killings to this list of injustices. Aching freshly in their memory is their experience in Kasarani and especially those from the Somali origin who were subjected to inhumane conditions for days. They tell of harrowing stories of how they were ill treated, going for days without food or water, bathing or even communicating with their loved ones. This wound a painful agitation for revenge.
Then there is that aspect of misled and misinformed ideologies from religious footings. Man is naturally a religious being with inclination to believing in a supreme being. Radicalists and Terror groups have taken a twisted approach by misconceptualising these beliefs and preaching blatant lies. To a youth who is ignorant and not as exposed to the Quaran teachings and the Islam belief of peace, a promise to sleep with virgins and an express ticket to heaven sounds like enough compensation for putting on that suicidal vest. These youths confessed that some Mosques are actually radicalisation dens being masqueraded as religious places.
Are we as a society dropping the ball on countering Violent Extremism among the youth and are there better ways of approaching this matter other than our current one? Could we still hand a straw for the youth to clutch on or have we drowned in the sea of bitterness and indifference?
This is an issue that affects all of us and a wholistic approach in addressing it should be taken with all the stake holders hoping on board for a ‘bull’s eye’ solution. Our young generation is under siege and the fear resonating on the ground from all corners is that if something is not done swiftly, Violent Extremism will swallow us whole.