Several churches in northern Nigeria were bombed December 25, in what has been described as "Nigeria's blackest Christmas ever." The attacks, perpetrated by the Muslim militant group Boko Haram, killed at least 39 people, "the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church [in Madalla near the capital of Abuja] after celebrating Christmas Mass as blood pooled in dust from a massive explosion." Charred bodies and dismembered limbs lay scattered around the destroyed church.
The world, as usual, offered its wishy-washy, half-hearted condemnations. Although Boko Haram has been bellowing its straightforward goals for over a decade — enforcing Sharia law and subjugating, if not eliminating Nigeria's Christians — the word so many Western leaders, from the White House to the Vatican, selected to characterize this latest Muslim attack on Christians was "senseless"— which implies no motive, no goal, no rhyme, no reason. Reading the mainstream media's coverage of these attacks, one walks away without any sense of continuity or context.
Consider the coverage by the New York Times's Adam Nossiter. After stating the facts, Nossiter explains:
The sect, known as Boko Haram, until now mostly targeted the police, government and military in its insurgency effort, but the bombings on Sunday represented a new, religion-tinged front, a tactic that threatens to exploit the already frayed relations between Nigeria's nearly evenly split populations of Christians and Muslims…
This sentence is teeming with problems. For starters, Boko Haram has not stopped terrorizing Nigerian Christians -- killing thousands of them, and bombing or burning hundreds of churches. Considering that just last Christmas Eve, 2010, Boko Haram bombed several churches, killing nearly 40 Christian worshippers, the New York Times's characterization of these latest attacks as "represent[ing] a new, religion-tinged front" is not only unconscionable, but unprofessional.
Boko Haram—whose full name in Arabic is "People of Sunna for Da'wa [Islamization] and Jihad [Holy War]"—represents a religious Islamic front that is hostile to all things non-Muslim, with Christians at the very top.
In the last couple of months, Boko Haram has carried out attacks on dozens of other churches, bombing some, torching others. In one instance, its members not only opened fire on a congregation of mostly women and children, killing dozens, they also executed two children of an ex-terrorist because he converted to Christianity; murdered Christian pastors in cold blood; and "went to shops owned by Christians, ordering them to recite verses from the Quran" -- killing those who could not.
Just last month, hundreds of armed Muslims from Boko Haram invaded Christian villages "like a swarm of bees," killing, looting, and destroying everything in sight. At the end of their four-hour rampage, at least 130 Christians had been killed, and another 45 slaughtered in another village by another set of Muslims, screaming "Allahu Akbar!" ["Allah s the Greatest!"]. Hundreds of Christians are still missing, and thousands have fled the region.
Of course, from reading Nossiter, who asserts that Boko Haram's attacks on Christians are somehow "new," you would not know any of this. His report insists on willfully refracting reality through the approved paradigm of political-correctness -- minimizing or ignoring the countless occasions of Muslims recently persecuting Christians around the world (lest it appear that he might be "siding" with Christians), while at the same time always putting the best spin on Muslim violence (lest it appear that he might be even slightly critical of Islam).
Nossiter's New York Times report goes on to state how there are "already frayed relations between -Nigeria's nearly evenly split populations of Christians and Muslims" -- language that suggests both camps are equally hostile, even though it is unclear what Christian terror groups have recently been bombing mosques in Nigeria while screaming "God is Greatest!"
Nossiter then goes on to offer other standard canards, including the suggestion that the Nigerian government's "heavy-handed" response to the terrorists is responsible for their terror -- comparable to saying that the rooster is responsible for the morning:
Critics of the government campaign against Boko Haram say that not only has the effort failed, but it has increased the sect's appeal, because the security forces' heavy-handed tactics have given it new sympathizers.
The New York Times's Nossiter even manages to insert another mainstream media favorite: the myth that "poverty causes terrorism"— despite acres of evidence that many of the most notorious Islamic terrorists are well educated and come from wealthy families, and that the terrorists' Christian victims are usually worse off than they:
The sect's attacks have been further bolstered by festering economic resentment in the impoverished and relatively neglected north, which has an exploding birthrate, low levels of literacy and mass unemployment.
In short, Boko Haram's actions have been anything but "senseless": its terror campaign has seen Christians reduced in number—either by murder or by being tormented until they fled their villages. It has also seen hundreds of churches eliminated -- all events that correspond nicely with Boko Haram's outspoken goals of creating an anti-infidel Sharia state.
"Senseless" is better reserved for the New York Times and other mainstream media which, in the cause of disinfecting, delousing and deodorizing events until they correspond to the way their writers and editorial boards wish they had gone, distort and lie about the truth.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.