My Statement on Westgate Tragedy - Al Kags
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My Statement on Westgate Tragedy

My fellow Kenyans,

Yesterday, we were jolted to find that yet again, we were under attack from a band of terrorists, who attacked and wantonly killed at least 59 people and injured over 175. The hostage situation that is ongoing at the Westgate shopping mall is tragic and heartbreaking. Many of us have lost friends and loved ones and even those who haven’t are filled with a sense of loss and tragedy.

I give my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those whose lives were lost in this harrowing ordeal. We pray that God will feel them with strength as we all face this trying time.

The terrorists that have struck yet again want to get us to be afraid. They want to sow seeds of discord among Kenyans, they want us to be divided – along religious and racial lines. They want us to be afraid of getting out of our houses and to lower our resolve.

But they don’t know Kenyans.

At times like this we heighten our resolve and come together, one to the other. We face the tragedy together in one spirit. We rise up and we go forward with resilience and courage. This was demonstrated clearly in the faces and spirits of the police officers who went in, without body armor even, to save the hostages and engage the terrorists. It was evident in the individual citizens who worked together to hide and protect each other as best they could. It was seen in the spirits of the well wishers who have volunteered to support Kenya Red Cross and the security forces and it is evident in the tweets and texts of the hostages who updated us from their hiding places.

In all things, we thank God because we remember that we are a strong nation and we can be confident of winning this war. We must remain vigilant and we must cooperate with the security agencies as they work hard to bring this issue to a close.

As we follow the events unfold and report on them in the mainstream and social media, let is be sensitive of what we report while this is ongoing. Let us be mindful of the families and friends that are struck with grief and worry for their compatriots who are still at Westgate. In this regard, we must condemn in the strongest possible terms the Sunday Nation headline today. To have shown a picture of one of the hostages in a desperate situation flies in the face of all editorial ethics. This was most ill advised. I call on the Nation Media Group not to allow themselves to benefit from such ill-gotten revenues. This is a paper that is seen by people of all ages including children! I ask them sincerely to do the following:

  1. Apologise to Kenyans and the world for that image in tomorrow’s cover as prominently and apologise directly to the family of the person on the cover.
  2. Turn over all of the revenues from today’s newspaper to the Kenya Red Cross to assist those who are affected directly by this tragedy.

To the terrorists: You will never make us afraid. You will never bring us down to our knees. Every time you strike, we shall rise higher. Every time you hit us we shall grow stronger. And as we do, we invite you to sleep with your eyes open, because we shall get you and we will not relent. We are Kenyans and we do not lose to scum. We are Kenyans, we will win.

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