Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Nigeria, Boko Haram,and #bringbackourgirls

Motto: "Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"
If anything that any of us non-Nigerian familiar about Nigeria, it would be scam emails from a bunch of Nigerian princes asking for a sum of money so that they could share their imaginary inheritance. Other than that, athletes.

You may already know this, but Nigeria actually have the largest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in Africa, ranked 26th largest economy in the world, overtaking the Republic of South Africa . Also known as 'Giant of Africa', because of its large population and economy, Nigeria is one of the regional power recognized in Africa.

But lately, something came out from the closet and shock the world. An astounding number of over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school. In 14th April 2014, the town of Chibok in Borno State was attacked and the girls from the Government Secondary School were taken as their 'spoils of war'. That is correct. Attacked by the Islamic extremist that called themselves the 'Boko Haram', which supposedly meant 'Western education is forbidden'.

First, lets us get to know about Boko Haram. Their long name is actually Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'wati Wal-Jihad, an Arabic name for Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad. It was too long and even comic book superheroes had shorter group name like the Avenger, or Justice League, so they decided to be known as Boko Haram only.

Pictured: Abubakar Shekau
It was founded by a guy name Muhammed Yusuf in 2002 and then the guy was dead on 2009 during the first Boko Haram violence uprising against the Nigerian security forces. The violence (and by violence I meant bloody battle) began in Bauchi and quickly spreads to Maiduguri, Potiskum, and Wudil, leaving around 1,000 dead bodies in its wake, including Muhammed Yusuf himself.

But it turns out that Boko Haram didn't died along with him. Instead in 2010, his second-in-command, Abubakar Shekau, had risen up and claimed leadership of the group. Under him, Boko Haram reaps even more death tallies. By 2013, it was estimated 10,000 death was caused by the Boko Haram attacks and raids.

But what is the drive and motivation of this murderous group? What is it they wanted to achieve, really? It was believed that they are propagating that according to the Islamic teaching the interaction with the Western world is forbidden, and they wanted the establishment of the Islamic Sharia law. Apparently they wanted to create a Muslim state governed by Muslims, even though the previous Nigerian president was a Muslim. But the truth is, all of these are thrown out of the window the moment they start killing the innocents.

Sometimes I wonder where does these people got the idea that suicide bombing can be considered as part of Jihad? In Islam, it is strictly forbidden to commit suicide, not matter what is your excuses. It is also forbidden to force other people to convert into Islam. And how did they come into conclusion that Western education is forbidden? Didn't the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself said "Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim". In fact, Islamic faith put great emphasis on learning and seeking knowledge. Even the Holy Qur'an started with the word 'Iqra', which means 'Read'. I'm pretty sure it didn't mean 'abduct schoolgirls and enslave them so they can teach you how to read'.

If you think that Boko Haram represent the Muslims, then you are terribly mistaken. Boko Haram are notorious for killing indiscriminately. It was known that the members of the group do not interact with the local Muslim population and, they also carried out assassination on government officials and Muslim clerics. Especially to those that criticized them. So no, it was not just the Christians that were targeted. On 12 March 2011, they assassinated a Muslim cleric named Iman Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi for criticizing them. They even killed another Muslim cleric named Liman Bana for the same reason. The schoolgirls that were abducted? They were both Muslims and Christians. The same goes to those who were raided in their villages. So no, these bat-shit crazy extremist people are not practicing Islam at all.

But where did Boko Haram get that kind of muscles to do all of these atrocities? This abduction was in fact the least atrocities that they have committed so far. And no, its not that I'm being insensitive to the abduction case. On the same date of the abduction, Boko Haram bombed a crowded bus station in Abuja, killing at least 90 and injuring more than 200 people. On 5th May 2014, they attacked 2 towns, Gamboru and Ngala, killing over 300 people and setting houses on fire. Are they done yet? Wait, on 15th May 2014 they attacked another 3 villages and killed 60 people. In just 2 months, people died by the hundreds just like that. This incidents created mixed reactions throughout the world.

Being selfless does not
mean being shameless.
Some reaction are positive, while some are.. really negative. Like what Irina Shayk, Cristiano Ronaldo's girlfriend, posted on her Instagram and Facebook. She posted her picture topless to show her 'support'. What does nudity have anything to do with those abducted girls? Are you volunteering yourself to be traded with those abducted girls who are being enslaved, sold, forced to convert and marry?

Because if you do, then I think the Boko Haram probably understood your message. They probably searching for your home address right now.

But sarcasm aside, the abduction case had sparked a vicious social media campaign with the hashtag of #bringbackourgirls. A lot of people, in high position and celebrities alike, have joined the cause and, well.. they just posted their pictures with a placard. At first, it was good. Spreading the awareness to the public, that sort of thing. Then somehow, things started to take a turn.

This is totally not going to backfire.
Michelle Obama's picture, for example, had sparked another campaign, #bringbackyourdrone and #wecantbringbackourdead. Apparently there were issues with the American's drone killing more innocent people in Somalia, Afganistan, Yemen, Pakistan.. err.. just to name a few countries where America deployed their drones.

There was also an issue with foreign power intervention. I think I read an article where someone voiced his concern that foreign interventions would only complicate matters. Stuff like, AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) gaining support and expanding its role of 'advancing U.S national security interest' that would inadvertently have a destabilizing effect in the country with the growing foreign military presence, something along that line. In case you didn't know, Nigeria is an oil-rich country. So, we all had seen this kind of scene, yes?

And no, I'm not hatching some sort of conspiracy theory here. I'm just saying that, there is a lesson that we can learn here. I'm not really sure, but I think it have something to do with corruption.


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