Nigeria: Islamic Terror, Slaughter Of Christians Receives Scant International Attention
The keyword here is quiet.
In the wake of church bombings, assassinations, and an attack on the United Nations' offices in Abuja by a suicide bomber that killed nearly two-dozen people, Nigerian Christians and their leaders are clamoring for increased military action to put down the momentous jihadist uprising. However, the measures currently being taken by the Nigerian government are apparently insufficient at combating the problem. The rest of the world, meanwhile, just doesn't seem to care.
Its difficulties may have developed within the domestic sphere, but Nigeria faces an equally threatening opponent in the chronic global disinterest in religion-based conflict. The modern world has very little patience to spare for those taking up arms in the name of their God. More and more frequently explicit religious motives serve as the perfect excuse for both national and international authorities to avoid addressing crises occurring within their jurisdiction, to dismiss them as overblown and absurd social tiffs between two equally irrational parties.
The Nigerian conflict is a perfect example of this. As stated in a Jan. 24 article in The Atlantic, “...speculating about the group's true aims has become a national--if not international—obsession.” Indeed, much speculation has been taking place. Direct action, however, has proved much harder to come by.
Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly as “Western education is forbidden,” has warned that its insurgency will continue until strict Sharia law—Islamic law—is observed throughout the country of Nigeria. Federal government response to the agitators was initially very severe. But since banning the group, demolishing its mosques, and executing its earliest leader, Muhammad Yusuf, the government has not kept up with Boko Haram. A proposed carrot and stick approach has seen little success with the terrorists, as the government seems unwilling or unable to make serious negotiation efforts, leaving them with just the stick. And yet, Boko Haram has thus far caused far more casualties than they have suffered at the hands of Nigeria’s military.
Even more surprising is the response worldwide—or lack thereof. Despite a direct attack on a United Nations facility, the UN remains strangely mute about the problem. No other nation or international body has attempted to provide Nigeria aid. And why? Because in a world where genocide, economic crisis, and political corruption reign supreme, no one wants the additional hassle of dealing with religious radicals. It may not seem fair, but those wielding the world's political and military power won't get involved in a cause they find so intangible.
Consider the dominant religious conflicts of our time. The work of Al Qaeda and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict have only received significant attention because they have either forced engagement with world powers (i.e. the attack on the World Trade Center), or have become entangled with issues the rest of the world cares more about, such as nuclear weaponry, border determination, and oil. Compared to these, the plight of Nigerian Christians is barely on the world's radar. And in a developing nation like Nigeria, where governing is as much about going with the international flow as actually administering to the nation's people, the government's involvement is checked too. International media pressure would make the Nigerian government more inclined to work harder at negotiation efforts, or alternatively concentrate their military operation to really crush Boko Haram, but as of now that pressure is nearly nonexistent.
On the grand spectrum of the world's many problems, the question of God is beginning to take a real back seat. There has been a shift in popular opinion; a religious conflict is too often equated with a senseless one. Whether or not the terrorized Christians in Nigeria have realized it yet or not, they're on their own for now.
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