Christian Survivors of Garissa Student Massacre Recall 'Exam': Muslims Lived, Christians Shot Dead
Christian student survivors of the 2015 Garissa University massacre, where 147 students were slaughtered by al-Shabaab radicals, recalled on the two-year anniversary of the attack the "exam" the Islamists made them take for their lives.
Margaret, one of the Christian student survivors, shared with persecution watchdog group Open Doors last week ahead of the April 2 anniversary the words of the attackers:
"You are asking who we are. We are al-Shabaab. We have come. Let us see who will win the game. We can see where you are hiding. Come out if you want to save your life!"
Frederick Gitonga, the former chairman of the Fellowship of Christian University Students, noted, "In the end it was an exam. If you wanted to pass, you would say you are a Muslim. If you failed, you are shot dead. If you are a Muslim, your life was safe."
The Somali-based terror group has repeatedly targeted Christians, purposefully separating them from Muslims before killing them in several kidnapping raids.
The Garissa Christian survivors attested how some of the Muslim students attempted to cover for the Christians by saying they are Muslims, but if the students were unable to recite parts of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, they were reportedly shot dead.
Although Garissa University in Garissa, Kenya, reopened last year with an aim to rebuild and restore its campus following the attack, one of the most deadly in recent years in the region, few Christian students have decided to take up study there, fearful of what happened.
"The number of non-Muslim students willing to study in Garissa is very small," a staff member there said in the days before the two-year anniversary.
"This is because fear remains high and Garissa is not considered safe ... With the memorial day coming, many are looking anxious and worried."
Kenya, African Union, and U.S. air forces have all been seeking to dismantle al-Shabaab. More than 150 of the Islamist group's fighters were killed during an American airstrike operation on al-Shabaab's Raso training camp last March.
Another 31 al-Shabaab fighters were killed in a recent attack on two of its bases in Jubbaland, Somalia.
Just last week, two women living in the U.S. were sentenced to at least 11 years in prison for providing material support to the radical Islamic group, according to the Department of Justice.
Gitonga is asking Christians around the world to continue praying for their brothers and sisters in Christ in Kenya, reminding them that they are one body.
"We need to support one another. Pray for the church in Kenya because they are becoming one of the main targets. Pray for the survivors, for a speedy recovery," he urged in his comments to Open Doors.
"Pray that they will hold onto the faith and keep the fire of the gospel burning. Pray for those who are still dealing with the trauma. Remember the families who lost their children. Pray for me."
The persecution watchdog group ranks Kenya number 18 on its World Watch List for 2017, which analyzes the threats Christians face for living out their faith around the world.
The group notes that although most of Kenya is Christian populated, high danger from jihadist groups is present in the northeastern regions of the country near the Somali border.