The University of Nairobi community comprising of staff and students engaged eminent persons in a lively debate at Taifa Hall, Main Campus on June, 29, 2015 discussing ways of countering violent extremism in the country and dealing with terrorism.
Ambassador Dr. Monica Juma, Principal Secretary, Ministry for Interior and Coordination of National Government, who was the moderator of the event, noted that the discussion was part of the four days engagement with industry stakeholders and experts from various countries on the means of curbing the menace. Just like Tunisia which was recently hit by terror attacks and now their economy has been affected, Kenya’s economy is suffering from the effects of terrorism and the two countries can share notes on the best strategies of eradicating the vice.
As one of the policy makers, Dr. Juma expressed her desire to have counter-terrorism policies driven by knowledge, research and data. “We need policies driven by evidence,” she said. The main aim of bringing the discussions to the university fraternity is that staff and students could do research on the best ways to deal with violent extremists. The University, as a centre of excellence, was better placed to handle the vice. The other aim was to sensitize students on the dangers of being radicalized.
Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, from S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, challenged the University to develop a centre of excellence dealing with terrorism. He cited examples like USA, Singapore, among other developed nations that have developed centres of excellence dealing with terrorism following terrorist attacks. Kenya being a high risk area, the University can lead by developing intellectuals that will be able to slay the dragon.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Peter M. F. Mbithi noted that as a university, we are extremely challenged by the evolving scenarios. Institutions of higher education are threatened. He noted that terrorism has affected higher education and it is time to get out there and get the solution.
Speaker after speaker expressed the need to have intelligent minds and Special Forces to deal with the terror threats as the average police officer and the average military officer can not contain the vice. Other ways that could be adopted in dealing with violent extremists include strong law enforcement agencies, creating an environment hostile to terrorism, dialogue with the stakeholders, evidence based research, among others.
The panel discussion was the final activity of a four-day conference held at the Kenyatta International Conference Center, KICC, coordinated by the Ministry of Interior to address terrorism and violent extremism in Kenya and propose a solution.
Present during the event included members of the University Management Board, Directors and Heads of Departments, staff and student leaders.