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Movie based on 2015 attack in which Muslims shielded Christians gets Oscar nomination

A scene from the “Watu Wote” film, based on the militant ambush of a Mandera bus in December 2015. Photo courtesy of Hamberg Media School

Watu Wote (All of us), a short film based on the December 2015 terror attack in northern Kenya during which a group of Muslims protected Christian passengers when suspected Islamic extremists ambushed their bus, has been nominated for Best Live Action short film at the 90th Oscar Awards.

Gunmen sprayed the bus with bullets, killing two passengers. But when they asked the 62 Muslims to identify the Christian passengers, the Muslims refused, telling the militants “to kill them together or leave them alone”.

Salah Farah, a teacher who was shot during the incident and died weeks after, became a symbol of unity.

The nomination was confirmed Tuesday when the complete list was posted on the Academy Awards’ official page. The awards are slated for March 4.

“We were touched by the story … that in a situation like this one humanity could win,” Katja Benrath, the film’s director and a student at Hamburg Media School in Germany told Religion News Services (RNS) last year.

“In this life-threatening moment, people stood up for each other — not caring about the religion of the next person because they wanted to save and shield human beings,” Benrath said.

RNS reported that although three German students filmed the 20-minute documentary and conducted their research in Mandera, the film was shot in other regions with a similar landscape i.e Nairobi, Mwingi and Magadi.

“Even when we travelled to Mandera and talked to people, they showed respect for each other and were aware that they needed one another to build a strong community,” Benrath said.

Al-Shabab attacks in Kenya (Courtesy Report)

Reports indicate that the Al-Shabab has been at war with Kenya ever since Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 in an effort to crush the militants.

September 2013 – Al-Shabab militants seize the Westgate shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, killing 67 people.

June 2014 – At least 48 people die after Islamist militants attack hotels and a police station in Mpeketoni, near the island resort of Lamu.

November 2014 – The group targets a bus full of teachers in Mandera County, executing 28 non-Muslims at point-blank range.

December 2014- Al-Shabab kills 36 non-Muslim quarry workers near the north Kenyan town of Mandera.

April 2015 – Militants carry out a massacre at Garissa University College in north-east Kenya, killing 148 people.

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