For the past year, Christians in northern Nigeria have been the victims of murder and ethnic cleansing by an al Qaeda-affiliated group named Boko Haram. The group, whose name means “book learning is forbidden,” has pledged to kill every Nigerian Christian in its effort to impose sharia on Africa’s most populous nation.
Recent attacks on the group by Nigerian security forces dealt Boko Haram a deadly setback, but not before more than 500 Christians were killed by the group. These Christians joined countless of the brethren worldwide as victims of radical Islamic intolerance – an intolerance Western media seems uninterested in.
That’s what Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in a recent cover story of Newsweek. Ali, a native of Somalia, is best known for the film “Submission,” which denounced the mistreatment of women in Islamic societies. As a result, her collaborator, Theo Van Gogh, was murdered, and Ali went into hiding.
While Ali is a controversial figure, nothing in her article should be. The level of suffering inflicted on Christians in the name of Islam is well-documented and should be familiar to BreakPoint listeners.
In addition to what’s going on Nigeria, Ali cites the genocidal war waged by the Sudanese government against the Christians of southern Sudan. Long before the world ever heard of Darfur, Sudanese Christians where brutally persecuted by the Islamic regime in Cartoon.
In Egypt, the “Arab Spring” has given way to a brutal winter for Coptic Christians. Hardly a week goes by without another report of murderous violence against that country’s Christian minority.
Sometimes the perpetrators are Islamic radicals and other times it’s the Egyptian army itself. But in both cases, the message is the same: the Copts, whose presence in Egypt long predates Islam, are no longer safe in the country.
There many other examples of what Newsweek calls the “global war on Christians in the Islamic world.” Ali is right when she calls it a “a major and underreported problem.” The question is “why is it so underreported.”
If Nina Shea, whom Ali quotes, is right when she says that Christians in many Muslim societies have “lost the protection of their societies,” why don’t we hear more about it in the mainstream Western media? After all, these outlets covered the “Arab Spring” and its aftermath in depth. Why not the attacks on Christians?
Ali suggests that this “reticence” is due to a variety of factors. One of them is a fear of “provoking additional violence,” which, if correct, is perverse: It’s like telling a person being mugged that you would like to help, but you are afraid that his attacker will only get even angrier.
Another is fear of being accused of “Islamophobia.” This is even more perverse. Now we respect the majority of Muslims who want to live at peace, but what’s at play here are radical groups spreading terror in the name of Islam. And Islamic nations should join us in denouncing the violence.
The sad fact is that the West along with many Muslim states has turned a blind eye to what is happening to Christian minorities in the Islamic world.
Hirsi Ali and Newsweek have reminded us that what’s going on here isn’t reticence but the most shameful kind of submission that only creates more victims.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.
Publication date: March 12, 2012