Hugh Fitzgerald: Beyond Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Other Genocide (Part Two)

The latest news from Nigeria shows you do not have to be in Boko Haram, or be in the Hausa tribe to which Boko Haram members belong, to engage in Muslim terrorism. Still more deadly than the raids by Boko Haram have been the attacks by anonymous members of the Muslim Fulani tribe.
This other terrorism is by herders, members of the Muslim Fulani tribe, who have been swooping down in lightning attacks on Christian villages, and killing men, women, and children indiscriminately. Since 2001, more than 60,000 Christian villagers have been killed by Fulani herdsmen.
Some apologists for Islam claim that the attacks have nothing to do with religion, but are only “clashes between” pastoral farmers, including some who are Fulani, and Fulani herdsmen, over land. A few such clashes have been reported, but at least 90% of the victims are known to have been Christian. And the Fulani rationale is that the world belongs to Allah, and to Muslims, the “best of peoples.” Christians can have no property claim superior to that of Muslims.
The Christians themselves have no doubt that they are being targeted not because they are farmers, but because they are Christians. The Catholic bishop of Kaduna – an area that has suffered many attacks in recent years – recently issued a statement, saying “The Fulani want to subjugate Christians, disintegrate the country, weaken the gospel and destroy the social and economic life of the people. There is a hidden agenda targeted at the Christian majority of southern Kaduna. This jihad is well-funded, well-planned and executed by agents of destabilization.”
“According to the expansionist principle of Dar al Islam (house of Islam), everything belongs to Allah directly and to his followers indirectly, including the land where the Fulani want to let their cattle graze.”
“’They believe it is right for them to take those resources by force from infidels and apostates,’explains former Open Doors’ West Africa researcher Arne Mulders.”
The Fulani have mostly escaped the kind of attention the world media has focused on the kidnapped girls of Chibok. That is for several reasons. First, there is no particular group, no Fulani equivalent of the Hausa Boko Haram, on which to focus world attention. Boko Haram makes for riveting copy, attention-getting photographs of foul fiends, posing menacingly for their close-ups. The Fulani attackers are nameless, faceless, and there are so many different groups of them engaged in these massacres. They come into a Christian village, burning huts, and killing as many inhabitants as they can, and then disappearing. They do not wait for their closeup.
Second, when you have victims who have been kidnapped, you can allow yourself to believe that your taking a hashtag stand on the outside may help to free them. Hence the spectacle of Michele Obama making much of her joining the #BringBackOurGirls effort. Tens of thousands of others subscribed to that hashtag, but none of it had any effect. Boko Haram allowed pictures of themselves, and of the kidnapped girls, to be taken and disseminated in the world media. You see the girls’ pictures, you read stories about their families’ anguish. You take a greater interest in the story. The Fulani do not kidnap, but kill, their victims, and pictures of corpses lack the human interest of hundreds of kidnapped girls. As for the villages that have been reduced to ashes by the Fulani, they too are hardly mediagenic.
Those who are following this endless series of Fulani attacks, and wondering why they get so much less attention than the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, have to demand that  more attention be paid to this story. They can ask their newspapers and television news programs to keep us up to date on the “Fulani killing of Christians in Nigeria.” If a Senator — likely someone who is a devout Christian — could be persuaded to take on the cause of the martyred Christians of Nigeria, and  bring their plight, and the role of their Fulani tormentors, to the world’s attention from the bully pulpit of the Senate floor, or from  television news programs such as “60 Minutes”  (a snappy title would help: “Beyond Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Other Genocide”) that would be willing to investigate and report on the atrocities being committed, and also give that impassioned Senator a hearing, that would be a great help. Greater awareness of what the Fulani attackers, largely unchecked, are doing, might then lead to offers of assistance — or threats of withdrawal of assistance — by the American to the Nigerian government. In turn that might lead to a much more vigorous policy by the Nigerians, of protecting the Christian villagers, and punishing their Fulani tormentors.

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