Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 26th 2015 Contents A31
Thursday, November 26, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
NAIROBI---Pope Francis touched down in Nairobi
on a sunny afternoon yesterday, stepping into a
joyous crowd of high-ranking officials in suits, bishops
in black robes, and dancers wearing ceremonial
colobus-monkey wigs and singing a welcome,
"Karibu Kenya, Papa Francis!"
Nairobi is the first stop on the pope s first official
trip to Africa, where he hopes to spread a message of
peace and reconciliation in three countries---Kenya,
Uganda and the war-torn Central African Republic.
He arrived at a time when public confidence in
the Kenyan government is plummeting, the econ-
omy is ailing, ethnic tensions are rising and
corruption appears to have spiraled out of
control. Many Kenyans are hoping that
Francis can lift their spirits.
"What s the mood?" said Bish-
op Anthony Muheria. "It s elec-
The 78-year-old pontiff s
schedule for the five-day trip
is packed with meetings, red-
carpet receptions, arrival cer-
emonies, farewell ceremonies
and a Mass today for as
many as one million people.
Francis s signature humility
was immediately on display: he
left the airport not in a polished
Mercedes or four-by-four truck,
as many Kenyan officials did, but
in a little Honda.
More than other recent popes, Francis
is revered as a champion of the poor. As
a cardinal in Buenos Aires, he rode a public
bus to work and often walked in the city s
Africa is by far the world s poorest continent,
and many Kenyans are touched that Francis plans
to spend tomorrow morning in the Kangemi slum,
a huge informal settlement of flimsy metal shacks,
broken dreams and open sewage trickling across the
"The people here never expected this," said the Rev
Paschal Mwijage, who leads a church in the slum. "Even
now," he said yesterday afternoon, "they still don t
believe the pope s coming." One child from the Kangemi
slum said she was too excited to sleep.
Nairobi has put aside day-to-day life in expectation
of the papal visit. Major roads were closed on Wednesday,
and so were schools and most businesses. The gov-
ernment has declared an impromptu national holiday
for Thursday, a day of "prayer and reflection."
Hundreds of thousands of Catholics are streaming
into the city from all corners of Kenya by bus, taxi,
motorbike, even bicycle. Major hotels are fully booked,
and many worshipers have opted for a cheaper option:
sleeping on school floors. The only other event here
that came close to generating this level of excitement---
and disruption---was President Obama s visit in July,
and hopes this time are even higher.
Pope Francis gets joyous
greeting in Kenya
A teenage girl who ran away from her home
in Austria to join Islamic State in Syria has
been beaten to death after trying to escape
from the group, according to Austrian media.
The girl travelled to the war-torn nation
with her friend last year.
Austrian tabloid Kronen Zeitung reported
that Samra Kesinovic, 17, was beaten to death
by members of the violent extremist group as
she tried to flee the Islamic State stronghold
The newspaper cited an unnamed Tunisian
woman who reportedly also travelled to join
the jihadists last year and lived with Kesinovic
and her friend Sabina Selimovic, then 15, in
Raqqa. The Österreich tabloid reported the
same story, citing insider sources.
However, Austria s interior and foreign min-
istries have yet to confirm the news.
Unconfirmed reports of the girls fate also
circulated last year, with UN counter-terrorism
expert David Scharia stating that one had been
killed in fighting and the other had disap-
Kesinovic and Selimovic arrived in Syria via
Turkey in April 2014, and quickly became
"poster girls" for IS. Photos on social media
sites showed them carrying Kalashnikovs and
being surrounded by armed men. According
to Austrian police, the images were aimed at
recruiting young girls to join IS.
At the time of their disappearance, the two
teenagers left a note for their families saying,
"Don t look for us. We will serve Allah and
we will die for him." The girls are believed to
have been married off to IS fighters soon after
arriving in Raqqa. However, by October 2014,
there were reports that both girls wanted to
Austrian authorities have accused a Vien-
na-based Bosnian Islamic preacher known as
Abu Tejda of recruiting the girls, though he
has denied the allegations.
As many as 130 Austrians have fled to Syria
to join IS, according to UN estimates. At least
half are believed to be of Chechen origin.
Pope Francis receives flowers on his arrival at the airport
in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday on a whirlwind pilgrimage to
Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, bringing
a message of peace and reconciliation to an Africa torn by
extremist violence. AP PHOTO
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