In response to the decision by Indonesia and Malaysia to provide shelter for one year for Rohingya Muslim refugees from Burma (now officially known as Myanmar), al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate based in Somalia declared that Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia as well as Bangladesh and Thailand should welcome the Rohingya with open arms:
At the hands of the savage Buddhists, thousands of Muslims, including many women and children, have fled their homes and are desperately trying to reach the shores of safety, their only crime being their adherence to Islam.
Take matters into your own hands, help your Muslim brothers and know that this is a religious obligation upon you for which you will be held fully accountable in front of Allah on the day of judgement”.
Welcome them, open your hearts to them before you open your homes and give shelter to the fleeing Muslims. Mobilise men, money and resources to defend the honour of the persecuted Muslims and repel the savage attacks of the polytheists.
The “savage Buddhists” to whom al-Shabaab is referring is Burma’s military junta. There’s no question they are a savage regime, but they are equal opportunity savages. However, it is true that the Rohingya are a marginalized group within Burma and even Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been largely mum to their plight although her National League for Democracy (NLD) did issue a statement today indicating the Rohingyas ought to have citizenship. Burma is due to have its first multi-party election in the fall.
Although the Rohingyas have certainly not been well treated in Burma, I don’t think anybody should believe al-Shabaab’s sudden concern for their well-being. It must be noted that al-Shabaab subscribes to Salafism/Wahhabism while the Rohingyas practice a variation of Sufism. Well, al-Shabaab considers the Sufis to be heretics and have a history of destroying Sufi shrines in Somalia. If the Rohingyas lived in Somalia there’s no reason to believe they would receive any better treatment from al-Shabaab than they presently do from Burma’s military junta.
Let’s remember above all else that al-Shabaab, like any other al Qaeda group, engages in terrorism. Its most notorious attack took place in September 2013 at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya killing 63 people. They are happy to kill Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Thus their pleas on behalf of the Rohingyas cannot be taken seriously.
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