NAIROBI, KENYA (RNS) Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, church officials there said.

The militant group, which church leaders and analysts view as an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives, officials said.

“Things are getting pretty bad,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Nigeria. “A good number of our parishes in Pulka and Madagali areas have been overrun in the last few days.”

The militants have turned the church compound and rectory of the St. Denis Parish in Madagali town into their base, the priest said. The militants overran the church center on Aug. 23.

“The priest in charge managed to escape, but they took his car and important church documents,” said Bakeni.

“Many civilians are now on the run,” he added. “Many others are being trapped and killed. Life means nothing here. It’s so cheap and valueless.”

In 2009, the group launched its first military operation in Maiduguri, advocating for a strict form of Shariah. Since then, it has attacked churches, villages, government installations and public places across north and northeastern Nigeria.

It has also carried out mass kidnappings in the region and is still holding captive more than 200 girls it grabbed from a local school in Chibok. The girls were kidnapped on April 14

After seizing the Borno State town of Gwoza from government forces last month, the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, announced an Islamic caliphate.

Church officials say a thin line divides Boko Haram and the Islamic State.

“The same ideology runs through their methods and disposition,” said Bakeni.

With the rise of Boko Haram, scholars say Islamic extremism threatens Africa as much as it does the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Boko Haram bears an inmate family resemblance to developments elsewhere in the Muslim world,” wrote Charles Villa-Vicencio, a South African theologian and a visiting professor in the Conflict Resolution Program at Georgetown University, in the July/August edition of the Horn of Africa Bulletin. “ … Resilient Muslims are engaged in a fight–back against the western influence.”

YS/MG END NZWILI

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Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

17 Comments

  1. “an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives..”

    Religion.
    It is the enemy of humanity.
    “Slay them wherever you find them” – Surah (Q’uran)

    Some people will say “but…this is not real religion. These are extremists”

    What does it say about the sacred literature if
    taking it ‘too literally’ is dangerous?

    “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27, parable of the minas)

  2. Think about how much worse it would be if the Boko Harum were athiests. Say what you will about the tenets of extremist Islam, dudes, at least it’s an ethos. I’m sure they won’t do anything too bad. because their belief in a higher power grants them EMPATHY and COMPASSION, which the athiests can never understand.

    • @ronald,

      “…EMPATHY and COMPASSION, which the athiests can never understand.”

      You must be one very mean person.

      Militant Muslim – Osama Bin Laden
      Militant Christian – Adolph Hitler
      Militant Jew – Baruch Goldstein

      Militant ATHEIST – John Lennon (‘All you need is Love’)

      • The universally praised religious scholer Karen Armstrong has shown in her writings that religion is not about following rules, but about COMPASSION and EMPATHY. So, anyone who follows religion is compassionate and empethatic by definition. To argue otherwise is a logical falacy.

        Oppositely, athiesm is the lack of religion and so anyone who is athiest cannot be empathetic or compassionate.

        You can argue with me, but you cannot argue with the brilliant Karen Armstrong. She is recognized as the greatest authority on religion and athiesm even by liberal rags like the Gaurdian. You will truly be showing your foolishness if you try to say she is wrong about anything.

        • Karen Armstrong is wrong if her scholarship shows that religion IS THE SOURCE of empathy and compassion.

          Monkeys and other primates have no religion.
          Yet they are EMPATHETIC and COMPASSIONATE.
          DOGS are also.

          It should be no surprise that Humans (great apes) like us should have similar biology. Empathy and compassion are biological facts of evolution – they are survivor traits.

          Empathy and Compassion is science, not religion.
          Warren Buffett travels the world giving millions to poor people – he is full of empathy and compassion – He is also an Atheist.

          Learn some science.

        • “The universally praised religious scholer Karen Armstrong has shown in her writings that religion is not about following rules, but about COMPASSION and EMPATHY. So, anyone who follows religion is compassionate and empethatic by definition. To argue otherwise is a logical falacy.”

          Not clear on what you are saying in this statement, ronald, but …

          in JOHN, Chapter 4, is clearly states:

          GOD IS SPIRIT. Just to clarify, God is NOT Religion, as Spirit cannot be contained, even through Holy Scripture, as this, too, is without manmade determination, for it CONTINUES (ever flowing) in God Purpose. Man plopped himself down on the first hilltop and refused others passage …
          Man is in infancy in his understanding of God, because he USES Religion to control not only himself but others, thus denying Spiritual Growth. When Jesus said FOLLOW ME, He was not speaking in the literal ways of man, but IN the Spiritual Realm, which is a coming into Spirit ID (Gift). The Christ is not a venue of systemic rule, but a Parenting “within” Spiritual Placement.

          Prophesy (active) is the Evolution of God and Man (his becoming in God Awareness).

          I do not know what “religion” you adhere to, but Religion can be anything, even Atheism. Politics can be Religion. Owning land, houses, even people … can be a Religion, and have nothing to do with Spirit (God), although all LIFE contains Spirit, and all movement contains some form of spirit (good or evil … if you wonder why history repeats, just look at the evil of the Inquisition and what is of the ISIL … this is evil moving, finding vessels of use).

          If you look at the WORLD, you can easily see mankind engaging in his religious activities, those things he believes are worthy of him, or worth his time, and these constitute as “rules” … as people do follow his own or those of another. Now, in compassion and empathy, Religious can have none or both. Hitler followed his “religion”, which was “his own” (man instituted) BELIEF system, which involved RULES—-again, his own—and I think most would agree that he was hardly compassionate or empathetic, possibly toward those who agreed with him and followed him, but he was certainly not showing compassion for those he despised; although, one might argue here if he was TRULY compassionate or empathetic if he steered so many into a delusional state (place).

          In JAMES 2, it states, PARTIALITY IS A SIN. So, what does this tell you about Religion? This is not to say that mankind/humankind, even angelkind (including Atheists) cannot use, or be used, in Religion for something in God Purpose. What I see in Atheism is balance so that the big-headed Denominational Agendas do not overwhelm in each Day (Season). The Atheists will have their Day, and the followers of whatever manmade doctrines of their Faith better pay attention.

          To add …
          From essay: The Preexisting Light (SPIR)

          For example, Vladimir Lossky, as theologian, reversed the UNDERSTANDING IN ENERGY AND ESSENCE. Why? Self-approval; no different than what Symeon (the New Theologian) is doing in his metronomics as monk (The Philokalia, Vol Four: Practical and Theological Texts) Gregory Palamas, of this same exercise, was more concerned with INTELLECTUAL PERFECTION, or Perfecting the Intellect, than he was officiating Light. These never entered the Realm of the Spirit. I have shared several times in SPIR: man can be inspired, even led by the Spirit, but never having entered [it]. All in this is purposeful, but not all are of God Purpose. You see, GOD IS SPIRIT (once again, look to the sharing of the woman at the well in John). In his partiality, man enveloped himself in title rather than Name. Name is SPIRIT ID. When you enter [this], you are becoming, which is a coming INTO THE SPIRIT. This is to be Virginal. It is here that one can hear, and hear God’s Angels on Light. Before [this], man sees within his place known as intelligence. When Heart Ascends to Mind, Soul is of a predisposition unto Light. I do not think anyone will argue that highly intelligent men can fall prey to their own intellect, and devise murderous outcome. In this, he is devoid of Senses and apart from Reason. Senses and Reason are Parenting Awareness.

          Peace and Love

        • Ronald
          “Atheist cannot be empathetic or compassionate.”
          From Bro Max’s many, many, many comments and his replies to me, I have learned he does have empathy and compassion. I actually know a couple of atheist who have empathy and compassion.
          I don’t defend Max for his over the top comments. He is a “wild and crazy guy” when it come to religion.

          My comments to you are no better than any others. The article was about the killings and rapes in Nigeria’s Borno State. They are equal opportunity killers, rapist and kidnappers. There’s nothing good about using religion as a excuse for terrifying actions.

    • @ronald,

      “EMPATHY and COMPASSION, which the athiests can never understand.”

      95% of the members
      of the National Academy of Sciences
      are Atheists.

      That is about 3,000 people!

      NONE OF THEM ARE IN JAIL.

      50% of the Doctors Without Borders
      Are ATHEIST.
      That is about 10,000 people.

      NONE OF THEM ARE IN JAIL.

      99% OF PEOPLE IN JAIL
      CLAIM TO BELIEVE IN GOD.
      ALMOST ALL MURDERERS IN PRISON
      ARE CHRISTIANS, JEWS AND MUSLIMS (PEW RESEARCH)

      If Atheists are so bad – WHY ARE THEY SO GOOD?

  3. You are a bit behind the times. Boko Haram have been doing this sort of thing for years. Usually they just destroy everything after stealing food, killing men and boys and raping and or kidnapping the women.

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