Monday, December 26, 2011

A very Haram Christmas in Nigeria


Christmas day was yesterday supposed to be a day of festivities in Nigeria, when Christians in the populous African country were expected to be celebrating the birth of the savior Jesus Christ. However Christmas day 25th December, 2011 became a day of carnage and mayhem in many parts of Nigeria, when members of the Islamist group Boko Haram decided to go on an organized murdering spree by attacking churches with explosives and gunfire in at least 4 States in the country, killing at least 40 people, and wounding and maiming hundreds more.

The Boko Haram sect whose name translates as "western education is sacrilege" is a purportedly Islamic radical organization that is advocating for the implementation of ancient interpretations of Islamic Sharia law throughout the populous and multi-religious federal republic of Nigeria. The fact that millions of Nigerians are not Muslims does not matter to members of this sect whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a Taliban style theocracy in this great African country.

These attacks are very painful to me personally as during the 10 year long civil war in my native country Sierra Leone, hundreds of Nigerians serving with the ECOMOG peace keeping force died to free my country from the notoriously murderous Foday Sankoh led Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels that vandalized and pillaged substantial areas of my once great and proud homeland. Also, coming from an Islamic family, these attacks are especially hurtful as I grew up among many Muslims who would not even hurt a fly, let alone throwing bombs at people whose only crime was that they gathered at their various houses of worship, to celebrate the birth of their lord and savior, Jesus Christ, a very important and revered figure in the religion of Islam itself.

Muslims around the world, especially the clerics, should start saying enough is enough and not just say this is the work of very few members of the religion, as the brazenly murderous attacks from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Somalia to Iraq, Spain to Nigeria, are slowly but steadily starting to solidify the notion that Islam is not a religion of peace and harmony, but rather one of violence, bellicosity and irrationality. From news about rape victims being sentenced and forced to marry their attackers, to attacks on ordinary people by radical and attempts to blow up planes, Muslims are being painted as hateful and dangerous people who would not stop at anything to impose their parochial views on others.

What is especially troubling to peaceful descendants of Islam like us is that while the Muslim world is quick to attack and condemn acts that are viewed as being anti Islamic, they seem to be loudly silent on savage acts perpetrated by these depraved individuals acting in the name of Islam. When a pastor of a Florida Church in USA threatened earlier this year to burn the Quran, many Muslims were extremely vocal in their outrage, but no such outrage was seen when Coptic Christians were being attacked in Egypt or trains were targeted in Spain.

Nigeria has over the years been plagued by North-South Muslim-Christian conflicts, but my view of the many Nigerians I have encountered over the years is one of  a very tolerant people who respect the opinions of others and are very progressive in their world outlook, with the occasional 419er occasionally tainting this near perfect picture. Growing up in my hometown of Segbwema, I had the privilege of going to school with many friends of Nigerian origin, who I always thought were Sierra Leoneans. Some went back home to Nigeria during the war, but most stayed, either enlisted in our military or engaged in productive civil life.




So as areas in Nigeria burn this Christmas from acts of violence perpetrated by man, I appeal to members of the Boko Haram sect to respect the opinions of others and accept and celebrate the cultural diversity that has made Nigeria so great. I pray for the security forces to get a better handle on this situation, as Nigeria is important to all Sierra Leoneans, and the blood of a Nigerian spilled is that of a Sierra Leonean.

Affiliated links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boko_Haram
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/08/quran-burning-pastor-expl_1_n_709310.html

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