Archive for Nigeria

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by loonwatch
Newsweek
February 12 Cover

Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue of Newsweek is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims. Despite her agenda-driven fear mongering, Hirsi has sparked an important debate about the plight of religious minorities caught in the crossfire as the so-called “Clash of Civilizations” continues to escalate.

We previously cross-posted an article from Jadaliyya refuting Hirsi’s account, and now offer another perspective from John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University.

A Global War on Christians in the Muslim World?

by John L. Esposito, Huffington Post

Religious minorities in the Muslim world today, constitutionally entitled in many countries to equality of citizenship and religious freedom, increasingly fear the erosion of those rights — and with good reason. Inter-religious and inter-communal tensions and conflicts from Nigeria and Egypt and Sudan, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia have raised major concerns about deteriorating rights and security for religious minorities in Muslim countries. Conflicts have varied, from acts of discrimination, to forms of violence escalating to murder, and the destruction of villages, churches and mosques.

In the 21st century, Muslims are strongly challenged to move beyond older notions of “tolerance” or “co-existence” to a higher level of religious pluralism based on mutual understanding and respect. Regrettably, a significant number of Muslims, like many ultra conservative and fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Hindus are not pluralistic but rather strongly exclusivist in their attitudes toward other faiths and even co-believers with whom they disagree.

Reform will not, however, result from exaggerated claims and alarmist and incendiary language such as that of Ayan Hirsi Ali in in a recent a Newsweek cover story, reprinted in The Daily Beast.

Hirsi Ali warns of a “global war” and “rising genocide,” “a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” and thus “the fate of Christianity — and ultimately of all religious minorities — in the Islamic world is at stake.”

Hirsi Ali’s account, for surely it is not an analysis, mixes facts with fiction, distorting the nature and magnitude of the problem. It fails to distinguish between the acts of a dangerous and deadly minority of religious extremists or fanatics and mainstream society. The relevant data is readily available. Nigeria is not a “majority-Muslim” country of 160 million people with a 40 percent Christian minority” as she claims (and as do militant Islamists). Experts have long described the population as roughly equal and a recent Pew Forum study reports that Christians hold a slight majority with 50.8 percent of the population.

Boko Haram, is indeed a group of religious fanatics who have terrorized and slaughtered Christians and burned down their churches, but they remain an extremist minority and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who reject their actions and anti-Western rhetoric. Gallup data finds that a majority of Nigerians (60 percent) “reject the anti-Western rhetoric” of Boko Haram.

Curiously, Hirsi Ali chooses not to mention that in the Jos Central plateau area both Christian and Muslim militias have attacked each other and destroyed mosques and churches.

Another example of failing to provide the full facts and context is the Maspero massacre. Coptic Christians have a real set of grievances that have to be addressed: attacks on churches, resulting in church destruction and death and injuries, the failure of police to respond to attacks, and a history of discrimination when it comes to building new churches and in employment.

Hirsi Ali rightly attributes the genesis for the assault against Christians to the Egyptian security forces. Although some militant Egyptian Muslims did in fact join the violence against Christians, she overlooks the fact that increasingly Christians have been joined by many Muslim Egyptians in calling for this discrimination and backlash to be addressed. Thus, she fails to mention the many Muslims marched in solidarity with the Christians against the security forces and were also injured as a Reuters article dated Oct. 14, 2011 reported: “At least 2,000 people rallied in Cairo on Friday in a show of unity between Muslims and Christians and to express anger at the ruling military council after 25 people died when a protest by Coptic Christians led to clashes with the army.”

She also fails to recognize the continuing state violence in Egypt against activists and protestors regardless of their faith.

Thousands of Muslims turned up in droves outside churches around the country for the Coptic Christmas Eve mass, in solidarity with a beleaguered Coptic community offering their bodies, and lives, as “human shields,” making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and build an Egypt free from sectarian strife: “Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields.”

Ali also points to the “flight” of Christians from the Middle East as proof of widespread persecution. According to Gallup surveys in Lebanon, however, Muslims are slightly more likely than their Christian counterparts to want to flee the country permanently and for Muslim and Christian alike the reason they give is primarily economic.

More problematic and deceptive is Hirsi Ali’s charge that: “What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities. This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003.” Sudan has certainly been a battleground for decades, but to say that Darfur is an example of the Muslim-Christian genocide is flat out wrong. The black African victims in Darfur were almost exclusively Muslim. The killers were Arab Sudanese Muslims (janjaweed) who murdered black Sudanese Muslims.

Addressing the issue of religious freedom requires greater global awareness and a concerted effort by governments, religious leaders, academics and human rights organizations, as well as curricula reform in many seminary and university religion courses (particularly comparative religion courses), to counter religious exclusivism by instilling more pluralistic and tolerant visions and values in the next generation of imams, priests, scholars and the general public. However, when lives are at stake and the safety and security of all citizens threatened, accurate and data driven analysis is crucial. Inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated generalizations exacerbate the problem, risk more strife or even violence and do little to contribute to finding a solution.

Newsweek Trumpets Hirsi’s War Against Muslims

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2012 by loonwatch
War on Christians
February 12 Cover

Newsweek has apparently abandoned any pretense of actual reporting in favor of tabloid-style sensationalism. Career hatemonger Aayan Hirsi Ali‘s alarmist screed in the February 12 issue is a jumble of half truths culled together with the obvious purpose of demonizing Muslims, at the expense of Christian minorities she pretends to defend.

Hirsi ignores US-led invasions–actual wars–against one Islamic country after another, and the impact on Christians, especially in Iraq. In fact, according to her apocalyptic vision, the West must destroy Islam, by any means necessary–in the name of peace and civilization, of course.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s War

by Anthony Alessandrini, Jadaliyya

For a couple of centuries now, we have had to make due with Samuel Johnson’s famous phrase: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Thanks to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we can now revise this phrase for the twenty-first century. Tthe last last refuge of a scoundrel, it appears, lies in taking up the battle against something called “Christophobia.”

Hirsi Ali coins this term as part of her alarmist and deeply hateful cover story for Newsweek. “The War on Christians” is splashed across the cover, but the actual target of Hirsi Ali’s piece becomes more clear in the title provided for the online version of the piece: “The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World.”

The terms of Hirsi Ali’s argument, such as it is, are all set out in her opening paragraph:

We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The criminally careless tossing out of the term “genocide” gives us a clue about what is to come. So too does the style, which is a classic version of her usual mode, that of the lone brave voice crying out about injustice in the wilderness, surrounded by dupes who are too busy portraying Muslims as “victims or heroes.” Fortunately, Hirsi Ali is prepared to offer us “a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends,” leading to what she sees as her inevitable conclusion and allowing her to coin her useful new term: “the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other.”

Having already reached her inevitable conclusion in her opening, Hirsi Ali appears to feel little need to support it with anything so mundane as actual facts. Instead he offers a loosely-connected cherry picking tour that ties together incidents of violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, and Indonesia. All the instances she references are real and terrible acts of violence. And all of them are symptoms of complex political and social situations that need to be analyzed and addressed. This makes it all the more horrible that Hirsi Ali treats them as mere data to be added to her deeply simplistic argument. Indeed, she raises the same two points in each case: first, that Muslims are killing Christians; second, that the world (by which she means “the West”)—apparently distracted by its uncritical admiration for the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring and its obsession with stamping out Islamophobia—stands idly by and watches. So Hirsi Ali is forced to beg her readers to help break what she refers to as a “conspiracy of silence.”

Were the consequences of such an argument not so grave—and I will come to those consequences shortly—it would be possible to simply dismiss this article as the nonsense that it is. To reduce the complexity of the political violence in Nigeria and Sudan to instances of “Christophobia,” for example, is simply ludicrous, as is the suggestion that somehow Western political and media figures have been “reticent” or “silent” when it comes to Darfur. This is in no way to downplay the full horror of these situations; indeed, what is most disturbing here is Hirsi Ali’s cursory citing of them—Nigeria merits just two paragraphs of her article, Sudan just one—in the service of her hateful argument.

In other cases, what is striking is the utter thinness of the arguments she tries to marshal. When, for example, she tries to make the case that “not even Indonesia…has been immune to the fevers of Christophobia,” she cites data complied by the Christian Post suggesting an increase in violent incidents against religious minorities of nearly forty percent between 2010 and 2011. Again, this is certainly a cause for concern, but it would be interesting to ask Hirsi Ali how she would compare this increase to the more than fifty percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the United States between 2009 and 2010, as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She might also have turned to data on Indonesia produced by Human Rights Watch rather than that of an obscure Christian website, which would have confirmed her point about an increase in attacks on religious minorities (including Ahmadis) in Indonesia—except that rather than attributing this increase to the rise of “Christophobia,” HRW’s conclusion about this key US ally is quite different: “The common thread is the failure of the Indonesian government to protect the rights of all its citizens.”

Of course, these sorts of fact-free claims about the “Muslim world” by conservative commentators are nothing new. What is more worthy of note, however, are those claims by Hirsi Ali that suggest a number of moves taken out of the contemporary neo-conservative playbook. Hirsi Ali’s connections to the neo-con movement—she is, among other things, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—have been widely noted. For example, Hamid Dabashi lists her prominently among the “comprador intellectuals” who have helped sell the neo-con agenda in the United States and Europe. (Indeed, it is clear that the title of her article is meant to resonate in this election season with the claims being made by conservatives about an alleged “war on Christians” here in the United States.)

One strand of this neo-conservative reasoning as it can be read out of Hirsi Ali’s article has to do with her references to Egypt. She only devotes one paragraph to Egypt, but the print version of the article includes four images (including the cover image), some quite graphic, of violence against Copts in Egypt. Hirsi Ali preludes her point by noting that the alleged rise of Christophobia in Egypt comes “in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.” Her key example is the attack by security forces on pro-Coptic protesters outside Maspero on 9 October 2011, which killed at least twenty-four people and wounded more than three hundred. From this example, Hirsi Ali moves forward with her relentlessly superficial line of argument: “By the end of the year more than two-hundred thousand Copts had fled their homes in anticipation of more attacks. With Islamists poised to gain much greater power in the wake of recent elections, their fears appear to be justified.”

The first and most obvious problem here, of course, is Hirsi Ali’s attempt to transform an attack by security forces against protesters—the sort of attack that has marked the bloody fule of the Supreme Council of Armed Force (SCAF)—into yet another example of “Muslims attacking Christians,” driven solely by the relentless power of Christophobia. The deeper problem, and the one that betrays the mark of neo-con logic, is her implication that the source of this violence springs from, not the US-supported and armed military junta currently ruling Egypt, but the forces supposedly unleashed by the Arab Spring. This becomes clear in the final sentence, which resonates with the neo-con mantra that has been constant since the beginnings of the popular uprisings: if they get their democracy, we’ll wind up with the Islamists.

This disdain for the forces of democracy in Egypt (as contrasted to the neo-cons’ own preferred model of “democracy promotion” through military intervention) becomes even clearer in the admiring take on Hirsi Ali’s article posted on the blog of the National Review by Nina Shea. Concurring with Hirsi Ali’s thesis regarding the rise of Christophobia in the region, Shea adds, “Unfortunately, Arab democracy in Iraq and Egypt, the ancient homelands of two of the three largest Middle Eastern Christian communities, seems to be exacerbating the religious persecution.” (“Arab democracy,” we are thus invited to conclude, must be quite different from, say, “Western-style democracy.”)

As Shea notes, Hirsi Ali also uses the example of violence against Christians in Iraq, which is again awarded a full paragraph of attention. “Egypt is not the only Arab country that seems bent on wiping out its Christian minority,” she writes, continuing her “fair-minded assessment.” She goes on to note the rise in violence against Iraqi Christians since 2003, and the fact that thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country—“as the result of violence directed specifically against them”—leading to what she calls “an incipient genocide or ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq.”

And then, she moves on. The fact that 2003 is hardly an arbitrary date is not so much as acknowledged. Here we find yet another example of the almost unbelievable gall exhibited by neo-cons, as part of the larger forgetting of the war on Iraq in the United States. That Hirsi Ali—who was, like her neo-con colleagues, a vocal supporter of the war—can avoid not only accepting responsibility for the shattering of Iraqi society, but can actually use this shattering to advance her own hideous Islamophobic arguments, is simply obscene. Just as she fails to acknowledge that the attacks on pro-Coptic protesters in Egypt need to be understood within the larger framework of SCAF’s systematic attacks on all protesters, so she refuses to acknowledge that the thousands of Christians who have fled from Iraq are part of the one and a half million Iraqis who have been made refugees by the war she supported.

This forgetting of the carnage unleashed by the criminal war against Iraq is especially important today, as some of the same neo-con forces have not ceased to bang the drums for a new war against Iran. Hirsi Ali, not surprisingly, whole-heartedly endorses an attack on Iran. This is one of the clear dangers presented by her article in the current moment. I had decided not to mention another, more intimate connection between Hirsi Ali and neo-con ideology, represented by her marriage to the dean of neo-imperialists, Niall Ferguson. But it becomes impossible not to mention this connection when, in the very same issue of Newsweek—in fact, only four pages away from her article—we find an article by Ferguson, arguing vigorously for supporting an Israeli attack on Iran, using logic that could have been lifted straight out of the pro-war op-eds of 2002 (“Sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement.”) Hirsi Ali only manages to work Iran into her argument regarding “Christophobia” in an indirect way, but given her long-standing views—she has, for example, argued that the Bush administration should have attacked Iraq and Iran after 9/11—her larger framework is clearly intended to support this march towards a new war.

But this is still not the most insidious aspect of Hirsi Ali’s argument. This becomes apparent only as she reaches her conclusion, which begins with a reiteration of her two theses: “It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem.” Helpfully, she goes on to offer an explanation for both aspects of the problem. This “global war on Christians” is not, she suggests, the result of coordination by “some international Islamist agency.” “In that sense,” she goes on, “the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.”

In a word: Muslims are killing Christians because Muslims hate Christians. And if this global war remains “underreported,” Muslims are to blame for this as well: part of the reason for “the media’s reticence on the subject,” she suggests, “may be the fear of provoking additional violence,” but the “most likely” explanation is “the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” Such groups, she concludes, “have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called ‘Islamophobia’—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.”

We discover a few important things here. The first is that the seeming disconnectedness of Hirsi Ali’s argument is in fact intentional. There is no need to draw logical or factual connections between the various incidents she raises because the logic can be found in the very structure of her thesis: what she cites are simply examples of Muslims attacking Christians, and Muslims attack Christians because Muslims hate Christians. When Egyptian security forces attack Coptic protesters, it is not the army attacking protesters; it is Muslims attacking Christians. When Iraqi Christians flee the violence of a country destroyed by a US-led war and occupation, it is not Iraqis fleeing from carnage; it is Christians fleeing from Muslims. Hirsi Ali has developed the perfect machine for circulating and defending Islamophobia, since it directly implicates every individual Muslim in the actions of every other individual Muslim—not to mention the actions of any government of any Muslim-majority state. And, as an added bonus, it even manages to implicate the imputing of Islamophobia itself as part of the problem, since she sees this as part of the sinister “conspiracy of silence” that allows this global Christophobia to flourish.

Hirsi Ali’s “war,” in other words, guarantees the continuing stigmatization of Muslims in North America and Europe. This is what allows her to speak of a “global war on Christians in the Muslim world.” In addition to resonating with the US’s “global war on terror,” what this phrase signifies is that the Islamic “threat” is a global one. So what might appear to be a minority community under siege in the United States, Hirsi Ali suggests, is in fact part of a threatening wave of genocide; the “spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities” exists, in inchoate form, everywhere. No one (Christian) is safe.

Allow me to state the obvious, which is that Hirsi Ali’s argument has an immediately recognizable pedigree. The attempt to justify the oppression of minority groups by producing them as threats to “our way of life”—including the assertion that the same groups have the mysterious power to bewitch, dupe, and silence the unwary through conspiratorial means and shadowy organizations—has been a standard practice of racism and fascism, those precursors of Islamophobia; Hirsi Ali is a connoisseur of all three. Her supposed defense of an embattled minority is a thinly disguised attempt to extend and expand the ongoing repression of Muslim minority communities. The logic of her argument is precisely the same as that which has underwritten the violent policing of Muslim communities in the name of fighting “homegrown terrorism,” which has had such horrific consequences for these communities (not to mention for civil liberties more generally).

Hirsi Ali, like Ferguson and the rest of the neo-con forces, is eager to wrap herself in the mantle of “Western” virtues such as skepticism and secularism, against the forces of sectarianism and fundamentalism that they see as constitutive of the “Muslim world.” But what could possibly be more sectarian and fundamentalist than Hirsi Ali’s vision of the world, with its terrifying simplifications and generalizations, and its reduction of genuine situations of violence and suffering to data whose only purpose is to power her relentless Islamophobia machine?

Nigeria: The Imam and the Pastor by Journeyman Pictures

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Imam_AlShafa_Pastor_James_Wuye

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Al-Shafa

In the past year Nigeria has been the scene of much religious and sectarian violence. We have commented on this violence in the past, as well as the efforts to transcend the violence through inter-faith dialogue and action, Nigerians Want to Transcend Sectarian and Ethnic Violence.

Below is a heart-warming story of a Muslim scholar and a Christian priest who both headed militias that were involved in sectarian violence but transformed themselves into peacemakers. (H/T: AMTR)

In the 1990s, Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye led opposing militias in Northern Nigeria. Now the men work together bridging religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims that have killed thousands.
‘My hate for the Muslims then had no limits’ states Pastor Wuye, whose militia killed Imam Ashafa’s spiritual leader and two cousins. Ashafa spent 3 years planning revenge, until one day, a sermon on forgiveness changed his life. The men met and are now working on a peace accord. Imam Ashafa explains, ‘even though we differ in some theological issues, we will make the world a safer place’.

The Imam and the Pastor:

Both Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye are still working hard to try and combat violence and hate. Recently they sent out an appeal for help:

NIGERIA under siege – an appeal to the global community

Today, our beloved country Nigeria is passing through a turbulent period of insecurity and desecration of places of worship and human life is no more sacred.  People are living in a state of fear and uncertainty of what would happen next.

We need the support of people of good will to salvage our nation from bloodletting, wanton destruction of lives and properties and the consequent threat to our nascent and fragile democracy and the nation’s survival.

We appeal to global citizens on behalf of widows, orphans, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people who are victims of this inhumanity to support us and other peace ambassadors with relevant resources, materials that would facilitate a process of sincere dialogue to restore sanity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in our country, Nigeria.

Pastor Dr. James M. Wuye/Imam Dr. Muhammad N. Ashafa

Nigerians Want to Transcend Sectarian and Ethnic Violence

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2012 by loonwatch

There are those who look at violence between Muslims and Christians with glee, such as Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. For them, when Muslims act criminally or hatefully it is more fodder to smear Islam, while dismissing the same logic for Christian attacks on Muslims.

What boggles their mind however is when Muslims and Christians come together and oppose sectarianism and actively seek peace and reconciliation.

This is the case in Nigeria, where many want to transcend sectarian and ethnic violence (h/t: SK).

Here for example are pictures of recent protests in Nigeria showing solidarity and unity between Nigerians and Muslims:

Muslim and Christian Nigerians holding up their respective symbols

An Imam and a Pastor in a show of unity

Christians protesters protecting praying Muslim protesters (something we also saw in Egypt):

Muslims are also protecting Christian centers of worship. This needs to become a movement within Nigeria (h/t: Thomas Miles):

Protest: Muslim Youths Guard Churches

Some youths, mainly Muslim faithful, organised themselves into groups yesterday to guard worshippers in some churches in parts of Minna, Niger State capital, as part of a solidarity gesture against the removal of oil subsidy.

LEADERSHIP observed in Kpakungu area of Minna that some of the youths earlier dispersed by the Police on Friday from protesting at the Polo Field, Minna, had regrouped to protect some of the churches.

It was observed that the youths mounted the gates of the churches as their Christian counterparts were worshipping, and conducted themselves peacefully in order not to cause any apprehensions.

The youths, under the umbrella of Concerned Minna Residents, were last Friday dispersed by the police for lack of identity, with the Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Mohammed Maishanu,  saying they could not be granted a permit to hold protest.

The leader of the group, Awaal Gata, told LEADERSHIP in an interview at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Kpakungu, said, “we are protecting our fellow Christian brothers and sisters to show the people that our leaders cannot use religion to divide us.

“In this struggle, we are determined to make sure that the removal of fuel subsidy will not stay; we want to send a signal – by coming here to protect our Christians friends and to show that we are one and our Christian brothers will do same on Friday,” he added.

Asked whether they got police permit to do what they were doing, he said: “We are peaceful; we are here to protect ourselves and to emphasize that security is not only in the hands of the police –  security is the responsibility of every citizen.”

These are the forces and the voices who should be promoted. Yet extremists on both sides want to see violence in a push for power.

Muslim Leaders Condemn Christmas Day Bombings

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , on December 27, 2011 by loonwatch
25DEC-bomb-blast.jpg-25DEC-bomb-blast.jpg

We at Loonwatch unequivocally condemn the Christmas Day bombings in Nigeria. We condemn all acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, no matter who is responsible.

Today whenever Muslims anywhere commit an act of violence, it seems that all Muslims are indicted and considered guilty until proven innocent. If each and every act is not expressly condemned, the assumption is that Muslims are giving their tacit approval.

When Muslims do expressly condemn terrorism, either carte blanche or in response to a specific incident, they are still asked by many, “Why don’t you condemn terrorism?” Muslim voices condemning terrorism seem to be drowned out in the major media by more sensational headlines.

Terrorism committed by Muslims is not only morally reprehensible and horrifying, but a disaster for the entire Muslim community. In the current climate, Muslims who mourn the innocent victims of violence must also face a backlash.

When non-Muslims commit acts of violence, it seems a different set of standards is applied. In the case of Nigeria, sectarian violence cuts both ways. Last August, Christian youth in Nigeria attacked and killed innocent Muslims gathering to celebrate Ramadan. The incident received relatively light media coverage, and there were few demands for Christians worldwide voice their condemnation.

Portraying only one side of a conflict is misleading and counterproductive. All Nigerians, and all people everywhere, deserve to live in peace and security, and to celebrate their holidays without the threat of violence.

***************************************************************

Christmas Day Bombings

(This Day Live)

The umbrella Islamic body for Muslims in the North, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), yesterday condemned the bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State and another church in Jos, Plateau State, saying it is not in a religious war against Christians. Both incidents claimed the lives of over 40 persons.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern states and FCT warned yesterday that the attacks may spark a religious war.

Secretary General of JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, while reacting to the bombings in a telephone interview with THISDAY, said Islam, as a religion, respects human lives and would do everything to preserve it.

“Human lives must be preserved and protected by all including security agencies; it is rather unfortunate that Nigerians are losing their lives to bomb blasts,” Aliyu said.

The Islamic body also tasked security agencies to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to justice, stressing that it is only when the culprits are fished out and punitive measures taken against them that it would serve as deterrent to others planning to carry out such nefarious activities.

In his reaction, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who joined other Muslims in voicing condemnation against Boko Haram, said taking of human lives in the name of religion was strange in Islam.

The sultan, at the formal opening of Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) organised by Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), B-Zone, said dispute could only be resolved through dialogue and not by violence or bloodbath.

He said Islam abhorred violence and called for unity among Muslims to address the challenges facing them.

“Violence is not part of the tenets of Islam and would never be allowed to tarnish the image of the religion,” the sultan said.

Chastising Boko Haram, another Islamic group, Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), said “cold blooded murder of innocent worshippers” was “horrifying and sickening.”

In a statement by its Director of Media and Communications, Disu Kamor, MPAC described the perpetrators of the dastardly act as “criminal and devilish hate cultists bent on imposing their evil ideology on us”.

“On this occasion and in similar incidents, Nigerian Muslims and Muslims everywhere stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Christian brothers and sisters and we are determined to continue to work together to remove the mischief of those seeking to destroy peaceful co-existence and harmony. We feel the sorrow and share the grief of all that were affected by this tragedy – this evil attack is a crime committed against mankind,” MPAC added.

Also, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said it is “shocked and petrified by this development”.
MURIC in a statement by Dr. Ishaq Akintola disagreed with Boko Haram, which had said it carried out the attack to avenge the killing of Muslims during the last Sallah.

He said: “The attackers cannot claim that they were revenging the attack on Muslims in Jos during the last Eid el-Fitr on August 30, 2011 which left many Muslims dead because Christians celebrating Christmas earlier on December 25, 2010 were the first to be killed in bomb explosions.

“Nothing in the scriptures of Islam justifies this kind of attack. We therefore assert clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that Boko Haram is not fighting for Nigerian Muslims.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the Sokoto State chapter of Izalat Bida’a Waikamtul Sunnah (JIBWIS), Sheikh Abubakar Usman Mabera, said the killing of innocent citizens, under any guise, is a case of murder and in contrast to Islamic teachings.

“Whoever takes the life of a fellow human being has committed evil irrespective of his religion – whether Christian or Muslim – and will pay for his sins.  So, this is an act of terrorism which is against Islamic teachings,” he said.

Mabera, who frowned on the act, said: “Almighty Allah forbids the killing of a fellow human being. Whoever thinks that he is carrying out Jihad by destroying places of worship and killing innocent citizens is ignorant of Islam because the religion forbids that.”

The Muslim Congress frowned on the Madalla blast and said the continued killing of innocent Nigerians by the activities of Boko Haram is uncalled for and should be condemned by all Nigerians.

The Amir of the Congress, Mallam Abdulraheem Lukman, said in a statement that:

“The endemic killings can best be described as inhuman, wicked, condemnable and totally unacceptable in civilised societies….

The action is even more repulsive during the periods of celebrations and this is highly condemnable.”

CAN in the 19 Northern states and Abuja has warned that attacks on churches by Boko Haram are capable of igniting a religious war in the country.

But labour unions in the country have urged Christians not to retaliate the Christmas attacks on churches in Niger, Plateau and Yobe States which left scores of people dead.

The pan-Northern Nigeria group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), also condemned the attacks yesterday, warning that they serve no good in the prevailing circumstances.

At a news conference in Kaduna yesterday, Secretary-General of Northern CAN, Elder Saidu Dogo, said the bombing of churches and killing of Christians was an invitation to religious war in Nigeria.
Dogo urged Islamic leaders to call the perpetrators of the dastardly act to order to avert confrontation, saying that no group should push the other to the wall to fan the ember of religious war.

He said if the authorities fail to track down those behind the killings of innocent Nigerians, “we shall henceforth in the midst of these provocations and wanton destruction of innocent lives and property be compelled to make our own efforts and arrangements to protect the lives of innocent Christians and peace-loving citizens of this country”.

While calling on Christians to be law abiding, he expressed the need for them to defend themselves whenever the need arises.
He called on the Muslim Umma and Ulamas in Nigeria “to live up to their responsibilities by calling to order, all Islamic sects in the country to have respect for human lives and stop these killings. For we fear that the situation may degenerate to a religious war and Nigeria may not be able to survive as one. Once again, enough is enough”.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government and its security agents in trying to curtail these attacks. However, we are piqued that the efforts of government are being undermined by the sponsors of the Islamic fundamentalists in the North.

“We are particularly disturbed that the perpetrators of these dastardly acts and their sponsors are well known to government and no serious or decisive actions have been taken to stem their nefarious activities.

“The Federal and state  Governments of Niger, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and such other areas that these wanton destruction of lives and property have been or are being perpetrated, should arrest and bring to book all the perpetrators and their sponsors.

“Government at all levels should provide 24 hours security services to all churches, Christian religious institutions and organisations in the county, especially in the North.

“We are also calling on the federal and state governments to urgently stem these massacres of Christians and the destruction of their churches and property in the North. The attacks so far have proved that some Islamic fundamentalists want to exterminate Christianity in the Northern states. We are assuring all Christians that the church will not allow that to happen,” Dogo said.

The ACF, on its part, condemned the frequent explosions, saying the Christmas attacks were capable of diverting attention to religious crises that would serve no one good.

The forum, in a statement emailed to THISDAY by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, urged Boko Haram to embrace dialogue in pursuit of the resolution of whatever grievances it had with the authorities, stressing that the bombings and killing of innocent Nigerians and destruction of property were misguided.

“The spate of bomb blasts on Christmas day, which were directed at places of worship across some parts of the North, is a serious source of concern to Arewa Consultative Forum, to Northern Leaders and to the good people of the North, indeed, to patriotic Nigerians.

“Source of concern not because past bombings were less serious but because those on the Christmas day are capable of diverting attention to religious crises that would serve no one, including the perpetrators, any good now and for a long time to come.
“Consequently, ACF calls on the perpetrators of violence to stop forthwith and avail themselves to due process of addressing perceived grievances that are in place.

“ACF also wishes to say killing of innocent Nigerians is not correct and offends God and many people’s sense of justice. This is because a good number of those who go to places of worship are not lettered in either Western or Islamic education.
“More so that Western education is not necessarily the cause of the collapse of national ideals, moral values and cause of indiscipline in the polity, since there are examples of Muslim countries and Christian countries with western education that are morally sound. Turkey belongs to the former and Nordic country of Norway belongs to the later.

“Nigerians of all faiths must therefore come together and confront corruption in all ramifications by inspiring cultural renaissance for collective good. Corruption in Nigeria is not an exclusive preserve of Western education but a national malaise that should be confronted by all, and not government alone. Enough of the bombings and killing of innocent Nigerians,” the ACF said.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) warned that there are certain disgruntled elements in the polity who want to divide Nigeria along sectarian lines.

President General of the TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, in a telephone conversation with THISDAY in Abuja yesterday, appealed to Nigerians, especially Christians, to be calm and avoid being incited to reprisal.

He added that it was necessary for Nigerians to stay united at these critical moments and not to allow any plot that is aimed at dividing the country along religious or ethnic lines to succeed.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called on the Federal Government to make the fight against crime and terrorism its priority rather than diverting the attention of Nigerians with its debate on the need to remove fuel subsidy.

It added that it is necessary that the root causes of insecurity – poverty and unemployment – be addressed as budgeting huge sums of money for security would not solve the problem.

In a statement yesterday, the Acting General Secretary of the NLC, Comrade Owei Lakemfa, condemned the attacks in strongest terms, describing the perpetrators as “terrorists whose minds are as blurred as their vision”.

He called on Nigerians not to be deterred by the terrorists or give up on building a peaceful and united country where the will of the people would prevail.

Protests Against the Bigotry of Purdue Professor Maurice Moshe Eisenstein

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Professor Maurice Moshe Eisenstein is a tenured associate professor of Political Science at Purdue University Calumet. He is under fire from student protesters for past and present remarks targeting various groups but particularly Muslims.

This is how a local paper described the events:

Nearly two dozen students demonstrated Wednesday outside Purdue University Calumet in protest of a political science professor who they say made racially prejudiced remarks verbally and on his Facebook page, particularly targeting Muslim students.

The student who organized the protests is one Christopher Ramirez. Ramirez believes that prof. Eisenstein purposefully posted inflammatory remarks aimed at Muslims on his Facebook page on the Muslim festival of Eid-Al Adha:

Christopher Ramirez, who organized the protest, pointed to associate professor of political science Maurice Eisenstein’s Facebook page, where he posted a picture and comment Sunday about 100 black Christians who were killed by radical Muslims. Ramirez said the picture and comment were posted on the first day of Eid, a traditional Muslim holiday.

Eisentstein for his part believes he is the victim of a conspiracy by Jew-haters:

They say I teach religion in class. I believe the person who started this is a faculty member, and I believe that many of these are her students. I am the only one who comes in every day with a kippah (a cap) on. I don’t know the answers to your questions. I made myself available. No one spoke to me. They are saying all of these bad things about me, but they wouldn’t talk to me.”

Maurice Eisenstein, who believes he is being targeted because he is an Orthodox Jew.

Actually, it would seem professor that the students are quite right to take umbrage at your Facebook postings. Viewing it today, we captured this screen shot of what we assume is the offending post that has riled up the student protesters:

It is quite condescending for a political science professor to coach his view of the sectarian violence in Nigeria in such black and white terms as “decide if you are with the radical or civilized people,” clearly he is generalizing about Islam and Muslims, and casting them in the “radical” and hence “uncivilized” camp. Students who saw this posting and read it in the context of the professor’s past statements can be excused for thinking he meant to tar all Muslims.

Yet, what we found even more egregious and definitely inexcusable is the link the professor posted just a few scrolls down on his Facebook page. It is a link to the hate site run by the fanatical queen bee of Islamophobia, Pamela Geller’s AtlasShrugs:

This is inexcusable. Pamela Geller is not only a radical anti-Muslim but a racist to boot, if you don’t believe us (there’s ample evidence to believe us), then maybe you will take the word of the ADL and the SPLC. Such a link cannot be a mere faux pas, it’s akin to linking to the neo-Nazi Stormfront website, and the administration at Purdue University Calumet should take a stronger stand than it has:

“Purdue Calumet by its nature as a public university welcomes and encourages the exchange of thoughtful and diverse views and opinions. Likewise, the university does not condone expressions that are considered offensive, intolerant or disrespectful.

“That stated, certain, recent unpleasant comments exchanged between Associate Professor of Political Science Maurice Eisenstein and others have been communicated on the Professor’s personal Facebook page. In no way do these comments reflect the university’s position and commitment to tolerance and respect with regard to the right of free expression by all individuals.

“Nonetheless, though Professor Eisenstein is a tenured faculty member, tenure has no bearing on the nature of free expression, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, that Purdue Calumet faculty members choose to exercise on their personal Facebook page. Neither are there Purdue Calumet policies and regulations that extend to personal Facebook pages.”

Such mealy mouthed pronouncements from the administration do nothing to help. Loonwatchers should let them know that they should review the professor’s treatment of his students, not only due to the protests but also the troubling links the professor maintains. Ask them if they would be okay with a professor linking to neo-Nazi websites? And then inform them of the disgusting, bigoted, racist, genocidal comments Geller has made, as well as her associations.

Here is the contact page for the University:

Contact

Purdue University Calumet
Office of University Relations
2200 169th Street
Hammond, IN 46323-2094

Phone:
219/989-2400
1-800 HI-PURDUE, x.2400
Locally within Indiana & Illinois

E-mail:
univrel@calumet.purdue.edu

Contact the professor as well:

219) 989-2688
Office: CLO 294
email: m_eisens@purduecal.edu

B.Sc. Purdue University,
M.A. Purdue University,
Ph.D. (1993) Purdue University

Video of the Student protest:
http://media.nbcchicago.com/designvideo/embeddedPlayer.swf

Fake Nigerian Christians Burnt Alive Photo Resurfaces on Facebook

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

It looks like the myth that Geller was pushing some months ago about Muslim hordes incinerating Nigerian Christians is resurfacing once again, this time on Facebook.

A blog by the name of Waffles at Noon covers the re-emergence of the photo:

A horrifying photo has surfaced on Facebook, one that claims the dead, charred bodies in the photo are Christians burnt alive by Muslims in Nigera. A common caption reads reads:

Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims in NIGERIA…(Posted by Jillian Becker in Africa, Arab States, Christianity, Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims, Islam, Muslims, jihad)…..PLEASE SHARE IT OR JUST UPLOAD YOUR OWN…BUT SOMEHOW SPREAD IT IF YOU’RE EVEN 1% CHRISTIAN — It is still not over yet! —

Waffles goes on to cite our piece from April that points out the fact that the picture is a fake.

Below is our post exposing the absurd falsity of attempting to pass the Congo gas tanker explosion as an example of Nigerian sectarianism.

******************

Pamela Geller Watch: Ties Gas Tanker Explosion in Congo to Electoral Violence in Nigeria

Pamela is claiming in a blog titled, Nigeria: Muslim Hordes Mass Slaughter Christians that a gruesome picture is evidence of Muslim violence against Christians in Nigeria (be warned the picture is gruesome):

A terrible and horrifying picture indeed.

Pamela brags that she wrote about it “first” back on April 19, and then wonders “why” is America fighting in Libya to restore a “universal Caliphate?”

Huh??

It turns out however that the above picture is not evidence of some “Muslim rampage” in Nigeria! The charred bodies are a tragic result of a tanker explosion in the CONGO!! A whole other country the last time I checked! Here is the evidence from Afrik.com (I give you the Google translation since it was originally in French):

The explosion, on July 3, a tanker in the town of Sange, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resulted in 235 deaths.

Here is the original French language report where you will also find more pictures: RDC : les images atroces du drame de Sange au Sud-Kivu

You will also see an interesting picture of Muslim UN soldiers, possibly from Pakistan helping to respond to the tragedy.

Here is a report from Reuters with some more pictures:

(Reuters) – At least 230 people were killed when a fuel tanker overturned and exploded in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, unleashing a fire ball that tore through homes and cinemas packed with people watching World Cup soccer.

Officials said on Saturday the explosion late on Friday also injured 196 people, adding that the death toll could rise.

They described scenes of devastation in the town of Sange, where houses were burned and bodies littered the streets. Some people died while trying to steal fuel leaking from the tanker, but most were killed at home or watching World Cup soccer in cinemas.

Many of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

United Nations helicopters began airlifting injured people to hospital, while Congo’s army, which lost a number of men in the blast, has sent soldiers in to help with the rescue.

“Our latest numbers are 230 dead and 196 injured,” Madnodje Mounoubai, a spokesman for the U.N. mission, said. Congo’s government also gave the same number of dead.

Marcellin Cisambo, governor of South Kivu province, where the incident took place, said the blast occurred when the fuel truck overturned, leaked fuel and then later exploded.

It was not immediately clear what caused the initial accident or later blast, but local people said the truck, which was part of a convoy, stopped when the road seemed to crumble, toppling the vehicle and spilling fuel. Fire then erupted.

“It’s a terrible scene. There are lots of dead bodies on the streets. The population is in terrible shock — no one is crying or speaking,” Jean-Claude Kibala, South Kivu’s vice governor, said from Sange, which is between the towns of Bukavu and Uvira.

“We are trying to see how we can coordinate with (the U.N.) to manage the situation and how to take the wounded to hospital,” he added.

TANKER ACCIDENTS

Roads in the area are notoriously bad after years of war and neglect in the vast central African nation.

“Some people were killed trying to steal the fuel, but most of the deaths were of people who were indoors watching the (World Cup) match,” Cisambo said.

There have been numerous similar accidents across Africa, where crowds gather around fuel tankers involved in crashes, only for the tanker to explode.

Millions of football fans across Africa were watching Ghana, the continent’s last team in the World Cup, play Uruguay in the quarterfinals of the tournament on Friday evening.

For many, who have no electricity at home, makeshift cinema halls are the only option for watching the football.

“My children were watching the football match in the cinema and then they ran out to see the petrol,” said Kiza Ruvinira, who lost three children and his sister-in-law in the blast.

“I went out to see what happened and I found my three children’s bodies myself. I don’t know how to go on.”

Mubaya Mumasura also lost three family members: “I don’t know what to do with myself I am so sad. I want the government to assist all the victims and help us.”

Congo’s weak government has difficulty providing even the most basic services, so U.N. peacekeepers began airlifting some of the wounded to nearby hospitals and aid workers were called in to help with medical treatment.

“The national Red Cross is working on collecting the bodies and taking them to the morgue, but the priority is obviously to take the wounded to the hospital,” International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) coordinator Inah Kaloga told Reuters.”

Kaloga said aid workers were trying to identify bodies before they were buried, but many were completely charred.

“It’s a catastrophe,” said Captain Olivier Hamuli,” spokesman for Congo’s military operation in South Kivu, adding that 13 soldiers had been injured and another 10 were missing.

The Kenyan driver of the truck is being held by the police.

Alain Ilunga, deputy CEO of Congo’s storage and distribution company, which is already investigating the incident, said the truck was carrying 49,000 liters of petrol at the time.

(Writing by David Lewis; editing by Ralph Boulton)