Somali novelist, Nuruddin Farah has blamed the society for upsurge of the dreaded terrorist groups, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and others in Africa.
Farah spoke on Saturday at the Ake Arts and Book Festival held in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria as he was being interrogated by veteran journalist, editor and author, Kunle Ajibade on his books, feminism, terrorism in Africa, his background, among others.
He said people who served their nations with their whole heart would not become tools in the hands of terrorists and their machinations.
“Who is to blame? Society is to blame because people who are educated, who are employed, who are serving their countries well will not listen to these terrorists. It is the under-employed who usually fall victims to their machinations, and that is very important. The reason is they cannot convince someone like me that they are not telling the truth about Islam.
When asked what was true bout Islam that terrorist twisted to suit their whims and caprices, Farah added: “They are insisting that the only way of worship in Islam is to go back to the 13th century way of worship. Number two, they insist that if they kill any number of people and they die, they go straight to heaven; no, they go to hell, I can tell them, because if you kill one innocent person, you cannot present yourself to God, to Allah and say you have done well. Such people can’t expect anything than hell.”
The popular novelist blamed the Arabs for religious madness and excesses being witnessed these days, opining that some of the rich Arab countries normally paid terrorists stipends so that they would attack them.
“It will be very hard for you to find the rich Arab dollars countries being attacked by terrorists. The terrorists, this is my thought about it, I can’t share my thoughts about it and tell you these are the facts, but my feelings is that the Arabs pay some of these terrorists monthly stipends to keep them away from their countries and keep them in Muslims areas where they fight and kill their own people or other people of other faith.
“Mention the countries that are suffering greatly from Islamic terrorism, these are Afghanistan, which is not an Arab country; Somalia, Boko Haram of Nigeria and a number of other Muslim nations and they kill more Muslims than they kill Christians and they specialize in terrorizing and killing poor people.
“While the Arabs should pay them their monthly stipends to halt resistance wherever they are, this is the kind of distorting things that enable some of these people to create havoc in the lives of these people and regardless of how you see it, Islamic terrorism causes the death of more Muslims than anyone else.
“And then for Europeans complaining about Islamic terrorism that they are going to take over the world; they are not going to take over the world, what they want to do is to destroy the space so that they could take over the areas they want to propagate these distorted faith,” he said.
Farah also said he was deeply affected by the death of his sister, Basra Farah Hasssan, who was killed by terrorists in Afghanistan in a restaurant.
According to him, his sister was a nutritionist working in Afghanistan with UNICEF and that on a certain day she went to a restaurant to have launch because she would be coming to the United States before she met her Waterloo.
“Eleven Taliban terrorists went into the restaurant where she was having a meal with some of her friends who had come to say goodbye to her because she would be leaving them to America and she died in the attack. Now I would learn fome days when the American Embassy in Kabul telephoned me around 3.00am in Cape Town and I learnt about this. Now, after this, I had submitted a new Novel in which someone who worked for the United Nations was killed by terrorist attack in Mogadishu and since what happened to my sister was exactly the same thing that happened to this man, the character in the book, I withdrew the book from publication because I felt guilty and I said I had willed my sister’s death; that I had written about someone exactly like her,” he stated.
However, Farah sid Somalia was known for being a secular nation with no trace of terrorism until 1991 when the State structure collapsed.
“In our homes in the way we pray, society was modest in its expression of the faith. Until after the collapse of the State structure of Somalia in 1991, as it happened, two years after that, I actually arrived Nigeria and married a Nigerian woman, who had since left me for better pastures. When Somalia was about to collapse in 1991, I was actually in Uganda teaching in the University; I tried to somehow bring peace between the warring parties and negotiate with the opposition groups and tried to get the government and the opposition group to come meet in Kampala where I was living at that time.
“After several attempt of talking to President Musevini who is still in power, I was rarely impatience with the slowness of the peace effort Museveni and I were involved in and then the BBC at one point asked me what was happening in Somalia and what Museveni was doing about it, as it was collapsing and then I said stupidly, as a young man, I supposed and I said because Museveni was more interested in appearing on the world stage-moving from Kampala to New York, to Bagdad and then Kampala thinking that he would be able to stop the American juggernaut of war from attacking Sadam Hussein and at which point, Museni threatened me with detention and I had to escape in the middle of the night and left my cars, my passports and books with friend of mine to say I was gone.
“So, I am used to being thrown out of countries, it is a normal thing and then I came to Nigeria when we have this displeasure of living under the dictatorship of Sani Abacha, by then, I had written three or four books on dictatorship. My interest had always been on social democracy and dictatorship and on the fight against all forms of tyranny.”