Al-Shabaab attack on Garissa University College threatens the academic community world-wide

In the morning of Thursday 2 April, four or more members attacked Garissa University College in north-eastern Kenya killing an estimated 142 students, 2 guards and 3 police officers and wounding more than 200.

Al-Shabaab has made an attack on Kenyan youth and their aspirations for the future, thereby threatening not only Kenyan society but the global academic community and the ideals of scholarship, education and academic freedom. Our university has staff and students from Kenya, and we stand with them in defending the right of Kenyans to study and work in peace and safety at home and abroad.

The deadly attack was followed by sinister threats against all Kenyans. Ominously, a spokesperson for Al-Shabaab said it punished citizens of Kenya for electing the politicians they did, assuming an outrageous right to collectively execute civilians for democratic decisions.

Countries bordering the zones of the most intensive struggles with terrorist organizations face extreme challenges to their peace and stability. Europe and the USA have a strong responsibility for the failed wars waged on terror and must play a strong role in supporting counter-forces of civil society, democracy, human rights and economic development – in which education and research play such a vital role.

In December 2014, more than 130 school children were massacred by the Taliban in Peshawar, Pakistan. In Norway, on 22 July 2011 a single extremist killed 77 people in two attacks, one on government buildings and one on a gathering of politically engaged youth, of whom he cold-bloodedly shot and killed 69. We must confront the ideological delusions of such mass killers, who assume the right to kill others to gain power through instilling fear.

Our thoughts go to those who lost their lives in Garissa and to all who have lost sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, friends, relatives and colleagues there.

We thank our students and staff for a serene and moving commemoration service on campus yesterday.

By Poul Wisborg, Head of Department, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Noragric, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Published 9. April 2015 - 9:36 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:22