Monday, July 27, 2009

The Expansion of the Bloody Borders

Because of the Arab conflict with Israel, most people who follow the news know that Lebanon is in the process of Islamization. A generation ago it was a majority Christian country, but today it has a slight Muslim majority, with a corresponding degradation of its quality of life and political economy. Since the civil war began in the 1970s, Hizbullah — thanks to the same old story of the West, a division among Christian factions — has gained control of the south of the country, and the remaining Christians are fleeing in large numbers.

Nigeria, although less well-known, is also on the “bloody border” of the struggle against radical Islam, and the Muslim population in the north of the country is becoming Talibanized. The most recent figures I have for Nigeria put its Muslim population at 50%, but that was several years ago, and Islam may well own a majority share by now. To make matters worse, the non-Muslims are not just Christians, but animists as well, so that Islam is presumably already the largest religious faith in Nigeria.

Here’s the latest from AKI:

Nigeria: Islamist Attacks Spread to Second Northern State

Potisk, 27 July (AKI) — Islamist militants have attacked Nigerian police in two northern states, the Nigerian daily Tribune newspaper reported on Monday. So-called “Taliban” militants clashed with police in Nigeria’s Borno state after at least 200 people were killed in clashes between Islamic militants and police on Sunday in neighbouring Bauchi state.

Many other people were seriously injured in the Bauchi clashes.

The self-styled Taliban group clashed on Monday with security forces in Maiduguri, capital of neighbouring Borno State. People were also reported to be fleeing central Maiduguri.
- - - - - - - - -
Islamist militants in Maiduguri reportedly destroyed everything they could lay their hands on and the police station and neighbouring buildings in Maiduguri were razed to the ground, according to eyewitnesses.

Borno state government did not immediately release any casualty figures.

A curfew has been imposed in Bauchi city after Sunday’s violence.

The militants in Bauchi, popularly called ‘Boko Haram’, are said to oppose anything western including western-style education. They accuse the state government of preventing them from publicly practising their religion or seeking converts.

Islamic Sharia law is in place across northern Nigeria but there is no history of Al-Qaeda linked violence in the country. Nigeria’s 140 million people are split almost equally between Muslims and Christians and the two groups generally live peacefully side by side, despite occasional outbreaks of communal violence.

Security is said to have been beefed up in Plateau State, to the south of Bauchi, where hundreds were killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians last year.

It is not clear if Monday’s attacks in Borno were linked to Sunday’s carnage carried out in Bachi.

The Borno “Taliban” came to prominence after attacking police stations in Borno State in 2004.


Hat tip: C. Cantoni.

5 comments:

Homophobic Horse said...

Lebanon and former Yugoslavia are recent historical examples of Islamization. Though I don't hear people bringing up those countries as examples very often, I'd say they are good examples. France is in the same state as Kosovo was in the 80s. All we need now is for the French Republic to try and reassert control over the areas it has lost control of at which point we have Kosovo Mk II.

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

Several comments:

1. Homophobic Horse's claim that France, with a 10% Muslim population, and Kosovo, which was already 50% Muslim in about 1910, is, on its face, ludicrous.

2. One of the consequences of the scum of Hizbullah taking over Lebanon (after the PLO depredations from a couple of decades ago) is that numerous Christian Arabs are fleeing and emigrating to Western nations. Is it to our benefit to keep them out? One of the key aspects of the Arab immigration to the U.S. over the last several decades is that almost two-thirds of the immigrants are Christian. What are the equivalent percentages in Europe? Does the Gates of Vienna gang want to exclude Arab Christians too, on "cultural" grounds?

3. One of the bad by-products of the Episcopal Church of the U.S. alienating the Anglican Communion with its liberal pronouncements is that the missionary and countervailing force of Christianity in Nigeria, which is led by the Anglican Communion, is weakened, because the Nigerian Anglicans are conservative in competition with Islam. It is why I, as an Episcopalian, did not favor the sanctioning of same-sex unions or the commission of openly gay bishops in the U.S. - not because these are bad ideas in and of themselves, but because of the negative impacts upon a place where Christianity is needed more than ever - Africa.

Dymphna said...

@TPFKAG:

There are Episcopalian missionaries from Africa currently working in the US among the ECUSA churches. I have read some accounts which propose that the African influence was what gave the schism in ECUSA its original impetus.

Our diocese is still part of ECUSA, but (as with the Diocese of Northern VA) there may begin to be individual churches that split.

Don't know if you followed the General Convention this year, but it is now owned by the liberal element whose tenets you mention. The conservative faction simply left the playing field and have joined those who are leaving ECUSA but not leaving Anglicanism.

The current presiding bishop is only nominally Christian in her theology and ecclesiology. I don't find her arguments compelling.

My great hope is that those who leave will return to the old mission of the Episcopal church (in the 19th century, anyway): education. Poor children left to the mercies of the unionized government schools desperately need the help that these people could provide.

The resurgence of Roman Catholic schools in this country points to that need. If only the Episcopal church, whichever branch one chooses, would re-visit its old purpose and revitalize it...

One can dream.

Dymphna said...

BTW, if you're interested, there is a very good book on the "lost" history of the Nestorian Church, which at one time ran parallel to the European, Romanized version of Christianity. The remnants of that church, almost annihilated by Islam, are the Arab Christians you mention. There are links to some of these exile groups in the sidebar...don't remember the names right now.

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died

From the reviews:

...a much broader canvas, roughly from the fifth century to the twentieth, within which the first global Christian establishment persisted for a thousand years. The predominant churches of that establishment were Nestorian and Jacobite, sufficiently different in conceptions of the nature of Christ to be considered heretical by Catholics and Orthodox. They consisted of hundreds of bishoprics from Egypt and Abyssinia to India and China, with the greatest concentration in Mesopotamia. For centuries, they got along well with neighbor faiths, especially Islam. But the pressure of invaders into Islamic-ruled lands, from the East (Mongols and Turks) even more devastatingly than from the West (the Crusades), and the fact that Christians often allied with those invaders, eventually provoked savage reaction from Muslims, especially, and, most lethally, from Islamicized Turks. So secular politics tolled the long death knell of Nestorian-Jacobite Christianity...

It's a good book, though I disagree with some of his ecclesiological and historical underpinnings. However, my quibbles are not enough to keep me from being fascinated by his account.

How different the Middle East would have been had Islam not become so deeply militaristic, so insistent on its "one way or death" theology.

The Nestorian and Jacobite versions of Christianity are certainly closer to its Semitic origins than the Roman Church turned out to be. But of course, they weren't impacted by Paul's Hellenism like the Roman version was.

The thousands and thousands of books they wrote and transcribed were destroyed. It's painful to realize how much work they did with Indian and Chinese scholars and to know that the toil of centuries is absolutely gone.

Rocha said...

Dymphna,

Nestorians were present in every corner of Asia even as far as Mongolia and Japan. I do not know of their fate in China but in Japan they had a small revival with the european arrival and some say that together with RCs become the major religion on japan. That is before their crackdown by Tokugawa. Theb they all burned at stake or converted back.