Several churches in northern Nigeria were bombed December 25, in what has been described as “Nigeria’s blackest Christmas ever.” The attacks, perpetrated by the Muslim militant group Boko Haram, killed at least 39 people, “the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church [in Madalla near the capital of Abuja] after celebrating Christmas Mass as blood pooled in dust from a massive explosion.” Charred bodies and dismembered limbs lay scattered around the destroyed church.
As usual, the world offered the requisite, if perfunctory, condemnations. Of note, however, is the word so many Western leaders, from the White House to the Vatican, used to characterize this latest Muslim attack on Christians—“senseless”—a word that implies no motive, no goal, no rhyme, no reason.
Although Boko Haram has been bellowing its straightforward and far from “senseless” goals for a decade—enforcing Sharia law and, in conjunction, subjugating if not eliminating Nigeria’s Christians—one can see why so many are decrying the Christmas Day bombings as “senseless”: the mainstream media’s coverage offers little by way of context or continuity concerning the attacks.
Consider the New York Times’ coverage, as reported by Adam Nossiter, in an article titled “Nigerian Group Escalates Violence With Church Attacks.” After stating the facts, Nossiter writes:
The sect, known as Boko Haram, until now mostly targeted the police, government and military in its insurgency effort, but the bombings on Sunday represented a new, religion-tinged front, a tactic that threatens to exploit the already frayed relations between Nigeria’s nearly evenly split populations of Christians and Muslims…
This sentence is fraught with problems. For starters, Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigerian Christians for years, killing thousands of them, and destroying hundreds of their churches. Considering that just last Christmas Eve, 2010, Boko Haram bombed several churches, killing nearly 40 Christian worshippers, the New York Times’ characterization of these latest attacks as “represent[ing] a new, religion-tinged front” is not only unconscionable, but unprofessional.
Boko Haram—whose full name in Arabic is “People of Sunna for Da’wa [Islamization] and Jihad [Holy War]”—has, for a decade, been representing a very “religion-tinged front,” that is, an Islamic front, one that is hostile to all things non-Muslim, with Christians at the very top.
In just the last couple of months, Boko Haram has carried out attacks on dozens of other churches, bombing some, torching others. In one instance, they opened fire on a congregation of mostly women and children, killing dozens; they executed two children of an ex-terrorist because he converted to Christianity; they murdered Christian pastors in cold blood; they “went to shops owned by Christians, ordering them to recite verses from the Quran,” killing those who could not.
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