I have to say that I do not consume much mainstream media, so I cannot comment on whether or not media coverage of the Boko Haram attack on the Nigerian town of Baga were lacking. I heard of the attacks on a local radio station this morning (not NPR) so at least to some extent the news must be getting out.
Tragically, the militant group Boko Haram killed some 2000 people in Nigeria. The Guardian reported the massacre on January 9th with this story. This is, of course, insanity of the highest order. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that the militant Islamic group has killed about 10,000 people over the last year alone and the Guardian states that some 1.5 million people have been displaced by the violence, which is not limited to Nigeria.
Which begs the question, “Why?” Basically, it is yet another religious group that would rather remain in middle ages religiosity rather than enter the modern world. This is from a description of the group from the Council on Foreign Relations:
Boko Haram was created in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, by Islamist cleric Mohammed Yusuf. The group aims to establish a fully Islamic state in Nigeria, including the implementation of criminal sharia courtsacross the country. Paul Lubeck, a University of California, Santa Cruz professor who researches Muslim societies in Africa, says Yusuf was a trained Salafist (an adherent of a school of thought often associated with jihad), and was strongly influenced by Ibn Taymiyyah, a fourteenth-century legal scholar who preached Islamic fundamentalism and is an important figure for radical groups in the Middle East.
The sect calls itself Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, or “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad.” It is widely known as Boko Haram, which is colloquially translated as “Western education is sin” for the group’s rejection of Western concepts such as evolution and the Big Bang theory.
They may reject modern thought, but unfortunately they have not rejected modern weaponry. It would actually be useful if they rejected Western thought when it came to rocket propelled grenades as well as evolution, but that probably won’t happen.
Now, the CFR also says that many in the group don’t buy into the religious philosophy, perhaps they just like to blow shit up and kill people.
Unfortunately the death of 2000 people didn’t cause as much stir as the killings in Paris, where some 3 to 4 million people came out into the streets in defense of free speech and modernism. It would be nice if millions more would march for Nigerians, but that probably is not very likely.
But the root cause is the same. A bunch of whackos with guns would rather that everyone stay in the middle ages rather than lose faith in their tribal god. I have no problem if people want to believe that, but the second they start killing people to enforce those beliefs on others, I have to agree with the people of Paris, it is time to hit the streets to show that freedom of thought and speech are the values we believe in.