Muslim Teacher Who Died After Shielding Christians From Terrorist Attack in Kenya Honored By President

( [email protected] ) Apr 01, 2016 01:55 PM EDT
A Muslim teacher who died shielding Christians after Islamic extremists attacked a bus in Kenya, has been posthumously honored for his act of courage.
Salah Farah, seen here after Al-Shabaab militants shot him during a bus attack in Kenya, died in January during surgery. Photo Credit: Voice of America

A Muslim teacher who died shielding Christians after Islamic extremists attacked a bus in Kenya has been posthumously honored for his act of courage.

As earlier reported, Salah Farah was traveling on a bus that was seized by the radical Islamic group al-Shabab, whose stated goal is to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The terrorists killed two people and wounded four others in the December attack before ordering the Muslim passengers separate themselves from the Christians - but the Muslims on board refused to comply.

"They told us if you are a Muslim, we are safe," Farah recalled to the BBC, "We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone."

In an effort to protect the Christians on board, the Muslim passengers even gave some non-Muslims their religious attire to wear on the bus so that they would not be identified easily.

Though Farah and several others were shot during the attack, the militants decided to leave after the passengers' show of unity. A month after the attack, the father of five died from his injuries.

Fox News reports that now, three months after the attack, Farah will be honored posthumously by Kenya for his act of courage, the country's president announced this week.

President Uhuru Kenyatta told parliament during his state of the union address Thursday that he is awarding the Order Of The Grand Warrior -- one of the country's highest honors -- to Farah, according to multiple media reports.

"He died defending people who he did not know. This is because he believed in their right to freedom of worship and he knew that every single life - irrespective of faith - is sacred," Kenyatta said during the State of Nation address in parliament, Al Jazeera reports.

"He is a powerful symbol of our country's ambition to attain the full expression of secure and cohesive nationhood, and he is a costly reminder that we all have a role to play in protecting our freedoms.

"I want to tell his children that their father's sacrifice will never be forgotten - and will be long admired."

The BBC notes that Al-Shabab, which means "The Youth" in Arabic, emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia's now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.

The group, which has between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks and suicide bombings, and is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK.

Abudallahi Derow, a 26-year-old activist who started a social media campaign in January to raise money for Farah's family, told Al Jazeera that deserved to be honored, as he died serving his country and defending his Christian brothers.

"He chose to die and save the lives of his countrymen. He is a symbol of unity and strength and his action is an inspiration to many."

The report notes that Derow's #HeroSalah Twitter campaign raised nearly 600,000 Kenyan shillings ($5,900), mainly through the M-Pesa money transfer service

Farah's ultimate sacrifice reflects Jesus' words found in John 15:13, which reads, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

"People should live peacefully together," he told Voice of America in January, just days before he died. "We are brothers. It's only the religion that is the difference, so I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us. ... And let us help one another and let us live together peacefully."