A Muslim teacher who died shielding Christians during a bus attack in Kenya has been posthumously awarded for his bravery.
Deputy head teacher Salah Farah was shot during the ambush by Al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Al-Shabaab, in December 2015. Farah was shot after he refused to be separated from Christian passengers on a bus traveling between Nairobi and Mandera. The father of four small children died a month later during surgery for his wounds.
In previous attacks throughout the region, the Somalia-based militants have killed Christians and spared Muslims. In December’s attack, sixty passengers were on the packed bus that was ambushed by armed gunmen.
Farah and others on board attempted to stalwart the militants, and when the terror group shot at the bus and began ordering passengers out of the vehicle, Muslim women on board removed their hijabs and handed them to non-Muslims. During the confrontation, a lorry approached. The militants ambushed that, too, killing an off-duty policeman. When the Muslims refused to cooperate, the attempt to kill the Christian passengers was abandoned. Three people died at the scene and at least two were wounded.
A powerful symbol of unity and an inspiration to many, Salah Farah died defending people he didn’t know: “We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone,” he told the Daily Nation after December’s attack.
On Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta awarded the Muslim teacher the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya, one of the top honours given for exemplary service to the country. During hisstate of the nation address in Parliament, President Kenyatta paid tribute to the national hero, describing Farah as a powerful symbol of Kenya’s ambition to attain secure, cohesive nationhood. He said the teacher’s actions were a costly reminder that all Kenyans have a role to play in protecting their freedoms.
“I want to tell his children that their father’s sacrifice will never be forgotten – and will be long admired.”