Salah Farah, a Muslim, father of five and a teacher from Kenya, was on the bus that was attacked by al-Shabab in December. He defied the terrorist group and shielded Christians from an attack. After being admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital for three weeks, he died during surgery to treat his bullet wound.
On his way home
Farah taught and was the deputy headmaster at a school in Mandera county. He had travelled to the southwest for a training program and was on his way back home when the attack occurred. The bus was going through the town Kotulo when it was ambushed; usually, buses travelling through the town are accompanied by a police escort.
“Unfortunately, there was no escort,” Farah said, “and then, unfortunately, we were surrounded by the al-Shabab.”
They fired through the windshield and the shrapnel injured his arm.
He showed incredible bravery
The attackers offered Farah a chance to escape their wrath.
“They told us if you are a Muslim, we are safe. There were some people who were not Muslim. They hid their heads,” he said.
But Farah and the other Muslim passengers refused. In fact, when they were ordered off the vehicle, Farah said:
“…the women who were Muslims started removing their hijabs and lesos and handing them to the non-Muslims.”
The passengers asked the terrorists to either kill them all or leave them alone.
“As we argued, they shot me and [a] boy. One man who also came out of the bus and tried to escape to the bush was shot.” He was shot in the hip bone.
He stood for peace
When asked why he risked his life, Farah answered:
“It’s only the religion that is the difference, so I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us… and let us help one another and let us live together peacefully.”
He does not consider people like his attackers to be Muslims.
“Islam is a religion of peace, it’s not a religion of terrorists,” he said. “No, it is people who have different ideology, because people who have that ideology, they want to kill.”
A true hero
Farah had been responding well to treatment; but, despite the hospital’s best efforts, he did not make it. He began to bleed profusely before his passing. After Farah’s tragic passing Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet announced:
“We provided a plane to fly the body home to Mandera for burial. This is because the deceased died while trying to shield innocent Kenyans. He is a true hero.”
Farah’s brother Rashid hoped that his death can help encourage a religious harmony and community in Kenya.