Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Baga massacre: elimination of democracy in northern Nigeria?

While Western citizens are mesmerized by the awful killings in Paris, a far worse atrocity has taken place in Baga, northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram slaughtered residents indiscriminately.

It isn't the first time, Here is what the BBC had to say back in May 2014:

"Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram - which has caused havoc in Africa's most populous country through a wave of bombings, assassinations and now abductions - is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

"Its followers are said to be influenced by the Koranic phrase which says: "Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors".

"Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.

"This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education.

"Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country had a Muslim president."

A 2011 article from GeoCurrents here gives more background on the ethnic and religious differences that have split Nigeria.


For me, this isn't about religion. It's about Puritans, the Christian variety of which set England on fire in the seventeenth century Civil War. And power: the Protestants' fear of losing their post-monastic-destruction possessions (and more) led to the "baby in the warming pan" lie and the overthrow of James II in the "Glorious Revolution" (itself the inspiration for more and bloodier revolutions elsewhere.)

Pseudo-sentimental posturing by world politicians in Paris - apparently in a separate location from the one to which they called up the crowds - won't stop it; nor will increased blanket prurient spying on all of us. If we want security, we need a secular state that firmly enforces rules of behaviour and demeanour. All groups need to keep their heads down.

But when things get doctrinal, on what solid rock does liberalism stand? And even if there is one, does our current political and economic leadership stand on it?


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Paddington said...

How does one separate religion from power? With bad examples including the Tibetan Buddhists, it is clear that societies dominated by religions bring to the fore fanatics.

Sackerson said...

I seem to recall that Bertrand Russell identified three forms of power: religious (or ideological), military and financial. There are extremists in all three categories.

Paddington said...

The worst is religious/ideological, because the belief system overrides the logic centres of the brain, enabling the user to do terrible things, including against their own interest, and those very same beliefs. It is that delicious feeling of being 'right', and why scientists don't generally fare well in debate, since the good ones are always hesitant about conclusions.

Sackerson said...

I'm inclined to agree, at least as far as the self-harm is concerned; but think of the Golden Horde.

And I'm not quite sure how we'd define what our wretched Western governments have been doing overtly and covertly in the Middle East, and why, or measure the extent of the harm - think of the millions displaced in Syria for example. I can herdly think the intention or result is to improve our domestic security.

Perhaps as with banking, we need to look at the financial-political-military-industrial complex generally to see how benefits of various kinds accrue to a minority and disbenefits are thrown onto the rest of us.