The Western Media has focused on what it has called the ’Arab Spring’ across North Africa and the Middle East. It has only recently begun to dawn on these fatuously optimistic liberals/leftists that what has been happening has been that as Moslem nations get rid of their often secular dictatorships they are being replaced by islamist regimes which are likely to be even more dangerous to the West and in some ways even more oppressive than the ones they replaced.
Religious and other minorities which enjoyed some measure of protection under Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the defunct Tunisian and Libyan dictatorships and elsewhere (including possibly Syria) now face a grim future of persecution.
For example, Egypt’s new Islamist president, elected on a platform that includes the imposition of Shari’a law, has said of the country’s Christian community (present in Egypt from the beginning of the faith, centuries before the arrival of Islam), "They need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate."
This follows a pattern set in Iraq, which, post-Saddam has seen its ancient Christian community shrivel under a wave of murders, bombings and repression.
Islamic Mayhem south of the Sahara
But while much liberal attention has been riveted to the areas north of the Sahara in the apparent ridiculous hope that these countries will somehow turn overnight into western-Style ‘progressive’ democracies, perhaps unsurprisingly, little of it has been given to the increasing Islamic-influenced turmoil and bloodshed in the countries south of it.
From Somalia and Eritrea in the East to Sierra Leone on the Atlantic coast, Islam has been an element in many conflicts.
UN troops were called on once more by the moslem–run government of Ivory Coast to try to control renewed fighting as Christians loyal to the ex-President tried to reclaim the homes from which they had been driven by Moslems. Whilst also not primarily religious, there has also been a “Muslim element” in the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where it has been related to ethnic, occupational and geographical fault-lines,
Islamism is gaining Ground across Sub-Saharan Africa
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is now to be found in both Gambia and Nigeria and Islamism is making varying degrees of headway in many other states such as Ghana and Senegal.
There have been considerable gains for the Islamist project in Nigeria. One after the other, its Hausa–Fulani dominated northern states, areas traditionally controlled in autocratic moslem fashion, have instituted Shari’a courts for Islamic criminal law and punishment, to the great alarm of the Christian community, which has increasingly assumed an assertively Pentecostal character.
There have been many deaths in these areas as Islamic terrorists have attacked Christian and other targets thought to flout islam. 150 people died and 4 police stations were attacked in a single day in the northern city of Kano (Pop. 9 millions). On Easter Sunday last, a suicide car bomber killed at least 38 people in the city of Kaduna, after apparently turning away at the last minute from security-protected churches holding Easter services. The blast left charred motorcycles and debris strewn across a major road, where many commonly gathered to eat at informal street restaurants and buy black-market petrol.
Forgiveness where there is no Contrition
The day following the Kano blast, a Christian pastor, Rev Isaac Achi who plainly feared that some in his 3,500 strong congregation might engage in reprisals, preached on the virtues of forgiveness, notwithstanding that there had been no sign of repentance on the part of moslems.
As it is, one commentator (Am Re: 16i) remarked, ‘Nigeria is a disaster waiting to happen. In all probability, the greatest show of bloodshed and violence of the 21rst Century will occur on Nigerian soil’. (Quoted by Chris Brand).
Those who remember the 1960’s ‘Biafran’ secessionist war of the Christianised, Igbo-controlled south east of the country can well believe it.
Another Am Re correspondent said, ‘Maybe we should send some sensitivity managers over there (ie to Nigeria) to teach them that diversity is their greatest strength.’
In Niger in the 1990s, new Islamic organisations, some of them linked to the Yan Izala in Nigeria, got large crowds onto the streets in demonstrations on women’s issues, family law, fashion shows and the like - against change - but made little gains in the short term in the face of firm government and the authoritarian response of the army.
Over in East Africa, the conditions in Somalia and Eritrea are well known. But Zanzibar is undergoing Islamic fundamentalist radicalisation with a potential for it to spill over into neighbouring mainland Tanzania. Meantime, in Kenya, 12 people died and a further 40 were injured recently in bomb attacks on two churches near the Somali border. And so it goes on.
Islamism and Ethnicity leading to the Break-up of States
The break–up of Sudan into an arabised Moslem northern state and a black Christian /animist southern one was a stinging riposte to liberal multiculturalists and multiracialists. And it will not be the last state to disintegrate along such lines across the Sahel region.
The vast land-locked West African country of Mali has been the scene of continuing Muslim / Christian violence which also has a racial dimension. Scores of churches have been torched, sometimes along with those inside. There has been little Christian retaliation. However, black junior army elements, determined to prosecute the war against the lighter skinned moslem Tuaregs of the north, deposed the country’s president.
To no avail apparently as the Tuaregs were able to seize the country’s best known if little visited city, ancient Timbuktu, previously famed for its remoteness along with outer Mongolia. The Malian army ran way in the face of the Tuaregs, blocking the exit roads so that the population could not itself escape.
Once in charge, the Islamists proceeded to destroy the ancient Islamic tombs of the City, much as islamic fanatics destroyed the huge ancient rock-carved Buddhas of Afghanistan. Not much Islamic respect for their own culture, still less ‘multiculturalism’ in all of this, is there?
According to reports in the Daily Telegraph of 11th July, Al Qaida is now in control of Timbuktu and the huge northern Malian territories, which are rich in resources. There is even talk of US military action to root Al Qaida out, although what that will do other than raising the hackles of the islamic population locally and elsewhere, as has happened with the doomed and tragic adventure in Afghanistan, is highly doubtful.
The Emergence of Islamism in Africa
Islam is making progress in Africa because it is easy to understand where Christianity is difficult, because aspects of it such as polygamy chime readily with African tribal practices, unlike Christianity which opposes them and because it has learned methods of outreach from the Christian Churches.
Radicalisation has been encouraged by the great increase in the training of African imams abroad since the 1970s. These have imported reformist ideas back to Africa. In addition the same influences filter across from the Arab countries to the north of the Sahara. and make themselves felt during African pilgrimages to Mecca, the annual hajj. From the hajj, pilgrims bring back new understandings of Islam and its implications, notably variations of the fundamentalist Salafism. This is as true of Tanzania as of Togo. The Horn of Africa, Sudan, and the East African coast are influenced directly by their proximity to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Salafism/Wahabism: following the Teaching of the Qur’an
The term Salafism, which includes the Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia, is a Sunni movement which takes as models the Salaf, or earliest followers of Mohammed. For them Islamic law should only be based on the precedents set by the 'Holy Prophet' and his Companions, the al-salaf al-salih, thus rejecting later elaboration of the legal system.
It is known in the West through the activities of the Salafi Jihadis who, in line with the plain meaning of the Qur’an, are willing to engage in acts of violence against civilian targets as legitimate expressions of Islamic faith.
Islamism is spreading and bringing its hatred of non-Moslems and its mass bombings and murders with it. Where Islam and non-Moslems, especially racially distinct ones meet, there one finds trouble, often bloody. This is the lesson for our own country.