The orgy of violence has continued in Jos. If you can remember, on Christmas Eve, an Islamic fundamentalist group called Jama’atu ahlus sunnah lid da’awati wal jihad detonated some bombs in Jos the capital city of Plateau state. This horrific act of violence claimed 80 innocent lives and injured about 120 people. The report making the rounds is that there are also smaller scale and continuing acts of terrorism by this terrorist group. This spate of Islamic extremism has lately become an intermittent fixture in Jos even as one notes its resonance in other parts of the Muslim-dominated Northern Nigeria.
According to this report, here is how the leader of this terrorist outfit justified their actions:
If you don’t know us, we are Jama’atu ahlus sunnah lid da’awati wal jihad which was falsely labelled Boko Haram, and we did this because our Creator has ordered us to wage war on everyone who does not embrace the religion of Islam after preaching to them. And (another) one of the reasons why we are doing this in this country is because of the way we are being killed in this country. Through evil machinations, plans are orchestrated to achieve desired goals (against us) and we are continuously being killed, just as the Arabs say ‘what the eye sees is better than a story that is told’. Everyone knows how our Muslim brothers and sisters were massacred in different towns in this country; Lagos State has witnessed it, so has Ibadan, the town called Zangon Kataf in Kaduna has also witnessed it, Bauchi has witnessed it and so has the town Suldaniyya known as Plateau or Jos, where we have carried out our attack being a witness to the killings of our Muslim brothers and even the abduction of our Muslim sisters and children whose locations are not known until now. It has also happened in Kano State at Sabon gari area. These happenings including what we have not even witnessed or heard of, only God knows their magnitude (and) God shall judge (in these matters) on the Day of Judgment. These are some of the reasons why we are waging this war because God has ordered us to go to war when our brothers and sisters are killed, and now we are even denied our rights to practice our religion. God knows best…….This is the message I want to pass to people, and finally I want to tell the Muslims in this country and the whole world that they need to know this is a war between Muslims and non-Muslims. So wherever you are, you should be weary; this is not a tribal war, nor is it similar to the wars of the pre-Islamic era, it is not a war for financial gains, it is solely a religious war. We did not start this war so it would end in one week, or one month or one year. Only when we are completely annihilated and nobody chooses to continue with our struggle, maybe that could be the end. Or (we establish a system where) religion has the final say or religion determines everything, that will be the end of this war. And definitely, this war will not end just because we are visibly present anywhere. This is a war between Muslims and non-Muslims. We are ready for anyone willing to face us, whether it’s a group of people or even the government because we know who supports us, God the Creator of the universe, praise be to God. Therefore, we are warning every Muslim who believes in the religion of Islam that he should never help a non-Muslim in this war. If he helps any non-Muslim and in so doing, a fellow Muslim suffers due to that, he should know that he is a dead person.”
After reading that, I had a few observations:
A) The leader of this terrorist group claims that the loss of Muslim life in other parts of the country was the motivating factor for the Jos violence which was primarily directed at Christians. As far as I can tell, religiously-inspired clashes are not the norm in the southern part of the country. Skirmishes in the south are either politically-motivated or based on ethnicity; they are not primarily religiously-inspired. So the claim that Muslims were being victimized in Lagos and Ibadan doesn’t hold much water. If there were clashes in Lagos and Ibadan, it would rather be a clash or confrontation between the Yoruba and the Hausa-Fulani. That means that the nature of that conflict was ethnocentric and not necessarily religious. It is only coincidental that the majority of the injured or killed Hausa-Fulani in such a clash are Muslims. There is no way for this terror kingpin to verify the diabolical insinuation that there was some sort of Christian plot to kill Muslims. That is arrant hogwash.
B) It is also useful to remember that there is a sizeable Yoruba Muslim population in the Southwestern states. So if there is anyone or group that ought to be incensed over the loss of innocent Muslim lives in the Yoruba South-West, it would indeed be the Yoruba –amongst which would be the Yoruba Christian relatives of such persons. So it is rather ludicrous to read about some terrorist group in faraway Jos, some of whom never had any affiliation with Lagos and Ibadan, use the possible loss of lives in those places as justification for their religiously-inspired violence against the Christians in Jos.
C) The rest of the places that the terrorist mastermind spoke of were places in the North with a Muslim majority. It is rather odd to hear these places cited as a reason for the attack. Who exactly, if not the Muslim radicals in these Northern enclaves, are responsible for the sporadic orgies of religious violence? The fact is that time and time again, the Christian minority in the Northern states have had to fend off, nay endure unprovoked attacks at the hands of a super-radicalized Islamic majority. To then use the scant, disproportionately smaller reprisal attacks against the Muslim perpetrators of violence in the Middle Belt and Core Northern states as justification for unprovoked orgies of violence against innocent Christians in other parts of the North smacks of revolting duplicity.
D) Now that I have debunked the vacuous and fictitious reasons adduced for this horrific attack, it is useful to reach out to sensible and peaceful men and women everywhere regardless of what faith or creed they hold to. If indeed there are concerns for the wanton loss of innocent lives, would it not have been better if concerned citizens pressured their respective local or state governments for concrete actions to arrest chaos? Would it not have been better for citizens to demand for more arrests and more trials, convictions and incarcerations? In what way can anyone justify the senseless slaughter of the innocent who were never in support of any religiously-mandated war?
E) Some analysts may conclude yet again, that this was just one isolated fringe group acting out their own twisted agenda. They may suggest that people should simply sweep this under the rug and continue living their lives like nothing happened. Some analysts may manage to twist and bend the harsh reality of religious violence staring us in the face and somehow exhume some buried or hidden political agenda. I will caution that people should not swallow such shoddy analyses wholesale. The ugly truth staring everyone in the face, and which has been spoken of in no lesser terms by the perpetrators of this mindless bloodbath, is that Nigeria should quit pretending that there is any sort of unity or cord that binds all together. It is high time people stopped drinking the “One Nigeria” coolaid because from the actions of the people tied together in that giant cage, there is very little that unites the people in the country. The animals that committed these heinous acts are telling anyone who cares to listen that they are waging a religious war targeting anyone who does not subscribe to the faith. It is rather idiotic to spin something tame and political from clearly worded warnings of impending religious carnage.
F) Perhaps it is time to stop rationalizing away this menace and start addressing the real issues here. It appears to me, that something has to be done about this volatile and extremely radicalized version of Islam that is currently being practiced in Nigeria and in other parts of the world. I am not going to make the silly assumption that all Muslims condone this senseless slaughter, nor am I even going to insinuate that Muslims (no matter how moderate) are secretly comfortable with such barbarity perpetrated in their names. But frankly, why does it seem like in many parts of the world, wherever there are incidences of barbaric communal, regional or localized violence and terrorism, in most cases, it always appears to involve Muslims and others? What can be done about this propensity for religiously-motivated bloodshed that is increasingly morphing into an Islamic narrative? Isn’t it time that people actually admitted to themselves the obvious truth about this global menace? When will political correctness allow people to correctly address the monster of Islamic fundamentalism especially that breed ravaging Northern Nigeria and many parts of Africa?
G) Finally, I am going to make a cynical prediction. This unprovoked attack on the Christians in Jos will engender an outcry from the Christian communities in these places and in parts of the South. It will attract a few headlines in the dailies or some commentary on radio or television. It will propel some despondent self-professing Christians to engage in a milder version of some retaliatory attacks which will also be unequivocally condemned. There will be assurances given from state and national-level law enforcement promising to arrest the chaos and to prosecute the masterminds of this assault. Christians in the north will be begged by seemingly peace-seeking politicians to return back to their daily lives with promises of swift and decisive action. Then, this unfortunate Christmas eve butchery will be swept under the rug. That is until, the next round of religious violence flares up again and engulfs some city in the North.
H) This is a vicious cycle. If I seem very cynical of placid reassurances from state-level actors or of hypocritical demands for restraint on the part of the victims without commensurate strong words of condemnation for the perpetrators, it is only because this is a familiar recurrent decimal in Nigeria’s theatre of horrors. Yes, this seasonal mass murder of Christians in the North, followed by vain promises of arrests and detentions, followed by a season of calm before the next religious storm erupts has been going on in Nigeria for as far back as 1953. Go figure. One thing is certain—there is absolutely no honesty in denying that Nigeria is without question a hotbed of Islamic extremism. If left unchecked, it may be the catalyst for a sustained war which would mark the end of that geographical namespace as we currently know it.