Muslims Need To Speak Up

Boko Haram, which has shot into prominence in the last few years in Nigeria for the kind of violent acts it has committed, recently enslaved more than 200 Nigerian Girls, inviting worldwide condemnation. Boo Haram is a militant Muslim group, based in the northeast of Nigeria, North Cameron and Niger. It has become a strong force in the Northern part of Nigeria and so far most of its violent actions have been carried out in this region. The organisation claims that it wants to establish a ‘’pure’’ Islamic State governed by Sharia. The group has often been involved in bombing schools, churches and kidnapping western tourists. It has not spared Muslims as well.

The recent incident of what the global media calls abduction, but which in fact is an enslavement of more than 200 girls, has sent shock waves throughout the world. A deeper examination of Boko Haram provides an interesting and revealing prism of the conflict that has ravaged Nigeria. Boko Haram, in the local language means ‘’Western education is prohibited’’. The name of this terrorist organisation itself reveals what it stands for and what are its major motives. The globe has really shrunk owing to new modes of communication and there are hardly any boundaries for free flow of not only information, but a transmission of cultural and social values between different societies. So while on the one hand, we see Western cultural icons finding a ready audience in the other parts of the world, as also more people worldwide taking to what is broadly known as western education. Similarly Islam, also owing to this seamless world, is able to transmit its ideas in various parts of the world including the West. But what stands out clearly in this attempt of Islam spreading to various corners of the world is a peculiar Gulf funded and backed version of Islam. Owing to this, many Muslim countries in the world are now facing what is being called an Arabisation of the local traditions and cultures.

But what has clearly stood out in this enslavement of the Nigerian girls, is the lack of response from the wider Muslim world. The incident was reported in the global media a few weeks after this tragedy happened, owing to lack of access to this region. But once it made global headlines, it attracted massive condemnation globally. The US is even planning to assist the Nigerian Govt in tracking these girls and bringing them back. But if the US and UK dispatch their rescue teams to assist the Nigerian Govt, the Islamist groups active throughout the world and some Western liberals will accuse them of intervention in Nigeria’s internal affairs. But the tragedy is that most Muslim countries and even Islamist groups have hardly made any public condemnation of Boko Haram’s horrible act, perhaps for the fear of not upsetting their own extremists.

Muslims have been known top take out huge processions in various global cities on issues like French Naqab ban or Swiss Minaret ban. But silence or an outright condemnation of such a horrific incident will be seen as a tacit approval to such acts of Boko Haram.  Boko Haram is not alone in killing civilians in the name of Islam. They have company in the form of other terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and TTP. Muslims have often remained a silent spectator to the violence that has been unleashed in various parts of the world. The more Muslims adopt a convenient silence about such acts, the less likely their voices will be heard when they speak against genuine violence being unleashed in Muslim countries like Afghanistan or Iraq. In the desire to not criticize such groups, Muslims fail to critically examine the causes and find solutions to the violence that has been carried out in the name of Islam in various parts of the Muslim world.

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