A Muslim militant group called Boko Haram, operating in Nigeria, is known for its explicitly stated mission of bringing their region into what they call a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law and for murderous attacks on government, church, and educational facilities in that country. Now, they are known for another atrocity: they are slavers. Boko Haram has, in the last month, kidnapped literally hundreds of Nigerian girls from schools and have publicly announced their intention to sell them into slavery.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, took credit in a video that surfaced this week for the mass kidnappings.
“I abducted your girls,” he taunted in the video, first obtained by Agence France Presse. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.”
Shehu Sani, a former negotiator between Boko Haram and the government, believes the group targeted the girls to force concessions from the Nigerian government — beginning perhaps with the release of its followers from prisons.
“The fact Shekau said he would sell the girls and did not say he would kill them is a clear indication that negotiation is possible. Shekau’s video is not going to be the last word from the group on the girls,” he said.
The group is aggressively attacking villages and government facilities where law enforcement and military troops are staging to conduct searches for the girls. In hostage situations like this, time is of the essence and the Nigerian government is taking some heat over how slowly they are reacting. The largest group of girls – over 200, taken at one time from a government secondary school – was kidnapped back on April 14, almost a full month ago. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is now making noises like he realizes he and his forces are in need of help. American, British, French, and Chinese officials have all offered assistance and it now sounds like he’s going to take them up on it. I’m glad to hear that.
What I don’t hear is a firm, committed condemnation of this group’s actions from any of the pro-Muslim groups that always want to paint Islam as The Religion of Peace™. As a Catholic, I’m constantly peppered with barbed comments from those basically opposed to the Church over any sin committed by identified Catholics, and many of those comments are dealing with matters than happened decades ago, matters that were addressed by the Church and our faithful. Nothing less than a full-throated outrage and demand for some secular justice to be applied is accepted by these people. Our mainstream media falls into that category and they are both quick and happy to report on any perceived foible of any person claiming to be motivated by Catholicism. This massive kidnapping happened a month ago and we’re pretty much just hearing about this this past week. Where have they been? Had this been an Irish Catholic kidnapping a bunch of Muslims from Libya, you’d have heard about it within hours.
This is not a peaceful act undertaken by a group that is, in any way, interested in peace and coexistence. They are delighting in causing harm and pain and the tepid response to them by people more interested in being perceived as enlightened and peaceful than in rescuing children is only making them bolder. There comes a time when an enemy’s actions demand action in response, when an enemy’s aggression needs to be met with the only response they understand and respect: overwhelming force. In this group’s case, that time is now past.