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Islamists Occupy Churches in Nigeria: ISIL and Boko Haram Hate Christians, Must be Confronted

By Deacon Keith A Fournier
9/5/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I have repeatedly written concerning the explicitly anti-Christian acts of terror committed by both Boko Haram and the Islamic State. Boko Haram and the Islamic State hate Christians. Of course, they also hate others, including some fellow Muslims. But, they particularly hate Christians - and we must be clear about this!

While news reports give us the gruesome details of the Islamic State beheading one more American journalist in the land which was once a part of Iraq and Syria, the rising tide of Islamist evil spreads in Africa, under the banner of Boko Haram. Like the Islamic State (ISIS,ISIL), these Islamists have also proclaimed a Caliphate. And like the Islamic State, they especially hate Christians.

Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden in the Hausa language. These Islamist terrorists hate all things western and Christian. They are militant Jihadist Muslims who intend to forcibly establish an Islamic Caliphate and impose Shariah Law on everyone, just as the Islamic State is doing in lands formerly claimed by Iraq and Syria.

Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden in the Hausa language. These Islamist terrorists hate all things western and Christian. They are militant Jihadist Muslims who intend to forcibly establish an Islamic Caliphate and impose Shariah Law on everyone, just as the Islamic State is doing in lands formerly claimed by Iraq and Syria.

ABUUJA, Nigeria (Catholic Online) - While news reports give us the gruesome details of the Islamic State beheading one more American journalist in the land which was once a part of Iraq and Syria, the rising tide of Islamist evil spreads in Africa, under the banner of Boko Haram. Like the Islamic State, these Islamists have also proclaimed a Caliphate. And like the Islamic State (ISIS,ISIL), they especially hate Christians.

On August 22, 2014, the FIDES Agency reported that 11,000 people fled the town of Gwoza, in the State of Borno in Northern Nigeria. They had to abandon their home or face the sword of the evil Islamist movement called Boko Haram. According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian affairs, 650,000 have fled the onslaught of these evil Islamists since May, 2013.

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Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden in the Hausa language. These Islamist terrorists hate all things western and Christian. They are militant Jihadist Muslims who intend to forcibly establish an Islamic Caliphate and impose Shariah Law on everyone, just as the Islamic State is doing in lands formerly claimed by Iraq and Syria. 

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 appeal to Islam while they engage in objectively evil acts. What is happening to our Christian brethren in Nigeria at the hands of Boko Haram must be examined as we consider the evil inflicted by the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL). They are cut from the same root. 

The evil of jihadist Islamism is not decreasing, it is increasing. It is spreading. Though it is also directed against minority religious sects and some Muslims, its real aim is the Christians.

The Islamic State and Boko Haram hate Christians.

Their anti-Christian intent and purpose are becoming increasingly clear. They must not be downplayed.

Many of the victims of this evil are being killed precisely because they are Christians. The words attributed to Tertullian in the Second Century of the Church still echo with a promise: "The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.

If you want to read a source which "pulls no punches" in their reporting on this growing threat, read Jihad Watch.Though the publication and its founder have been pilloried over the past few years as sensationalist, its reporting has been amazingly accurate.

The blood of the martyrs is flowing 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.

We are living in a new missionary age. Part of this new missionary age involves overt persecution against Christians. We need to be clear about the evil designs of these Jihadists. They hate us.

I remember the cold war, even drills where we hid under our desks. The rising spread of Jihadist Islam calls to mind the great need for a National resolve.  It makes the threat of militant Marxism look mild in comparison.

The word "Martyr" derives from a Greek word which means "witness." The Catholic faith proclaims that the shedding of one's blood in fidelity to Jesus Christ is the final witness to the Faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that:

"Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude" (CCC #2471 - 2473)

I have reported on the evil inflicted by Boko Haram for years. Let us consider a few of the evil acts which they have committed. 

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, six armed men killed a customs official, a five year old boy and two others in cold blood, in the name of Allah. They set fire to a police station, a government building and two churches, one Catholic and one belonging to the Christian Brethren church.

They blew up vehicles, motorcycles and terrorized an entire town for three hours - all in the name of Allah.

On Thursday, March 8, 2012, they killed a British and an Italian hostage. None of the reports indicated how the murders occurred but, the track record of Jihadists points to beheadings.

The two victims in 2012 were innocent engineers who were kidnapped in May of 2011. Efforts to negotiate for their release were unsuccessful. So too were efforts to rescue them.

This group has been terrorizing northern Nigeria for many years. They boast and smile as they take responsibility for their evil and horrific behavior - without any remorse or regret.

I reported on the horrible bombing outside of St Theresa's Catholic Church on Christmas Day, 2011. That evil act committed by Boko Haram, was followed by an ultimatum issued to Christians in Northern Nigeria to leave in three days or face further violence.

A spokesman for Boko Haram announced they were planning a "war on Christians".

The spokesman said the group would "launch a number of attacks, coordinated and part of the plan to eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country. We will create so much effort to end the Christian presence in our push to have a proper Islamic state that the Christians won't be able to stay."

We must always remember the evil which was inflicted upon Danny Pearl in 2002.

We must also never forget what we have seen in the beheading of two American journalists in the last month. This is barbarism. This is evil. This kind of evil cannot be tolerated or downplayed, it must be opposed.

The media seems to finally be paying attention to the rise of this Islamist evil. The true nature of this group shocked many in May of 2014 when they kidnapped 200 schoolgirls. The Christian Association of Nigeria released the names of the girls.

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, gave an interview  to Vatican Radio on May 6, 2014. Here is an excerpt:

"We know that Boko Haram have no sense of humanity. We know that they are killing innocent people. But that they should be able to cart away almost 300 children in the Northeast of Nigeria without any trace of where these children are really baffles us".

The Christian Post confirmed what many news reports simply did not even note. The majority of the kidnapped girls are Christians.

Of course, the kidnapping of any child is an intolerable evil and heinous crime. The acknowledged intent to sell these girls into slavery properly shocks the conscience of the world. However, the explicitly anti-Christian nature of the kidnapping received little press notice. 

A May 6, 2014 article entitled Most of Boko Haram Kidnapped Schoolgirls Are Christians, Nigerian Evangelist Says noted:

"With reports that the girls are being sold as brides to the Islamic militants for $12.00 each, the parents and Christian groups have called on the Nigerian military and the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to do all they can to find the girls.

"On Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau admitted that his group is responsible for the kidnapping of over 200 girls from Chibok, Borno State last month, and said that he plans to have them sold on the market.

"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," Shekau, said in the video translated by CNN. "There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women."

These reports confirm numerous reports over many years. This Islamist sect has been explicitly terrorizing the Christians of Nigeria.

I have repeatedly written concerning the explicitly anti-Christian acts of terror committed by both Boko Haram and the Islamic State. Boko Haram and the Islamic State hate Christians.

Of course, they also hate others, including some fellow Muslims. But, they particularly hate Christians - and we must be clear about this!

Now, in addition to beheading Christian men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and enter into arranged 'marriages' with Muslims, the group is now occupying Catholic churches in the northeastern section of Nigeria.

I conclude with an excerpt from a report filed by Fredrick Nzwili of the Religion News Service on September 2, 2014:

"Things are getting pretty bad," said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Nigeria. "A good number of our parishes in Pulka and Madagali areas have been overrun in the last few days."

The militants have turned the church compound and rectory of the St. Denis Parish in Madagali town into their base, the priest said. The militants overran the church center on Aug. 23.

"The priest in charge managed to escape, but they took his car and important church documents," said Bakeni.

"Many civilians are now on the run," he added. "Many others are being trapped and killed. Life means nothing here. It's so cheap and valueless."

In 2009, the group launched its first military operation in Maiduguri, advocating for a strict form of Shariah. Since then, it has attacked churches, villages, government installations and public places across north and northeastern Nigeria.

It has also carried out mass kidnappings in the region and is still holding captive more than 200 girls it grabbed from a local school in Chibok. The girls were kidnapped on April 14.

After seizing the Borno State town of Gwoza from government forces last month, the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, announced an Islamic caliphate. Church officials say a thin line divides Boko Haram and the Islamic State.

"The same ideology runs through their methods and disposition," said Bakeni. With the rise of Boko Haram, scholars say Islamic extremism threatens Africa as much as it does the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Boko Haram bears an inmate family resemblance to developments elsewhere in the Muslim world," wrote Charles Villa-Vicencio, a South African theologian and a visiting professor in the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University, in the July/August edition of the Horn of Africa Bulletin. "

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Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

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