Bishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria on Boko Harem's Violent Jihad Against Christians
Pray for our Christian brethren in Nigeria being terrorized by Jihadists.
What is happening to our brethren in Nigeria should be of profound concern to us. The threat of Jihadism is not decreasing. If anything, it is increasing. The victims of this evil are being killed precisely because they are Christians. The blood of the martyrs is flowing more frequently these days as militant Islamic terrorism increases and establishes a new beachhead in Africa. For Catholics and other Christians, we cannot - we must not- fail to act. Africa is one of the great centers of the renewal of the Church in the Third Millennium.
Boko Harem members displaying their weapons
RIMINI, Italy (Catholic Online) - One of the speakers at the 33d meeting at Rimini, held this week, was Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos and President of the Nigerian Episcopal Conference. The meeting is sponsored by the movement Communion and Liberation. The Archbishop gave a telephone interview to Lorenzo Margiotta which can be read in its entirety here. Among the topics discussed was the violence directed against Christians by a fundamentalist Jihadi movement called Boko Harem. Here is an excerpt:
Monsignor Kaigama, since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 600 people killed in the attacks in Nigeria. What are the reasons for this?
"These massacres are in great part caused by the fundamentalist Islamic group Boko Haram (literally meaning "Western education is forbidden"). They operate in the Northern part of Nigeria where all these acts of violence are occurring. It is a group that intends to replace the Constitution with Islamic law in order to forcefully convert the people to Islam. They initially began to attack the government, its institutions and security agencies, then initiated attacks on churches. They want to eliminate churches because they educate and promote culture."
What does the government do to guarantee security and protect the population? Boko Haram asked President Goodluck Jonathan, who is a Christian, to resign and convert to Islam.
"The violence by these groups is also fostered by the incapacity of the government to control the situation. Police and military forces do exist but up to now they have not been able to put an end to these massacres. Coordination between the different parties responsible for security is lacking. Churches are continuously under attack, in Kaduna, in Kano, in Jos, and we begin to feel abandoned, without any help. The attacks occur when we least expect it; many Christians are now afraid to go to mass and exercise their rights as Christians."
Nonetheless even Muslims have been under attack. Is it appropriate to speak about this situation as a war of religion?
"The reason for this conflict is mainly economical, fuelled by poverty and corruption. The fundamentalists of Boko Haram are very clear in their intentions: they want to kill government officials, security agents and Christians. They have no scruples to even kill Muslims who collaborate with the government and promote security. Terrorists have no respect for life - they kill others thus killing themselves. Their aim is to create confusion. We always try to make a distinction between the fanatic fundamentalist groups and ordinary Muslims because ordinary Muslims in Nigeria want to live in peace with their neighbours."
How do you believe it is possible to get out of this situation? Is there hope for an end to the violence?
"Ending violence is a responsibility of the government. As religious leaders we can only teach the people not to respond to violence with violence, but we cannot enforce the law in order to stop these diabolic people that attack Nigerians within the country. The federal government, however, does not seem capable of effectively countering terrorism: these attacks have been occurring since 2009 and up to now there has been no adequate response. Considering the situation, the population is increasingly afraid. We require definitive action against Boko Haram, which has substantial amounts of money, sophisticated arms at its disposal, great exposure on the Internet and close contact with journalists. If the government cannot handle this on its own they have to look for support outside in order to involve those who have the means to assist. The fundamentalists of Boko Haram can be defeated. I am worried by the fact that, up to this point, no one has been able to initiate a dialogue."
We regularly report on the evil acts of Boko Harem. The phrase "Boko Haram" means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language. These Islamist terrorists hate all things western and Christian. They are Jihadists who intend to forcibly establish an Islamic Caliphate and impose Shariah Law.
They are also called al-Sunnah wal Jamma - or "Followers of the Prophet's Teachings". They refer to themselves officially as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which means "people committed to the propagation of the prophet's teachings and Jihad". They are murderers and terrorists who use an appeal to religion to attempt to justify their evil.
I reported on the horrible bombing outside of St Theresa's Catholic Church on Christmas Day. That evil act, perpetrated by these Islamic terrorists who refer to themselves as the "Nigerian Taliban," was followed by an ultimatum issued to Christians in Northern Nigeria to leave in three ...
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