Following the difficult week that France has experienced following the frankly satanic attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, Amnesty International report as do the Guardian in this report, an attack that is probably the most bloody piece of work carried out by Boko Haram on a group of Nigerian villages and towns. Up to 2000 people died.

It has not hit the headlines in this country, probably because the victims were African, and were not, as far as anyone has reported, rude journalists and cartoonists. We know about and have had a fuss made of the Charlie Hebdo attack because, I suspect:

  • the victims were white Europeans and we identified with them culturally
  • we have plenty of TV images to feed our fascination
  • our newspapers resonate wildly with any attack on other newspapers and defend to the death the ability to be rude or insulting in print

The villagers of Baga in northern Nigeria were not being rude in print, nor being “satirical” in any way, nor do they have film crews crawling all over the provinces. They were being human and Muslim and vulnerable and quite alone. That they are badly protected by an inadequate government in a country that is divided on religious lines is not the issue either.  They were simply living lives in the villages and towns where God had placed them when some deluded un-Islamic men (their view of women is shown by the fact they sent a 10 year old girl with explosives to blow up a market in Maiduguri, Borno state yesterday) decided to attack again in the guise of the thief who comes, in Jesus’ words, to kill and steal and destroy. Just because they can.

This is, I have to say, more important than what happened in France, where at least some cause-and-effect was at work from a newspaper that was in many ways “asking for it”. Prior to this attack, it had a small circulation of 50,000 or so, and there was a really good reason for that!

In the words of Remy Maisel yesterday on the Politico website, je ne suis pas exactement Charlie. And have no wish to be.

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About Huw Humphreys

I am a headteacher in the city of Milton Keynes, where I have been since April 2011, looking to make education effective for the whole child and keeping a distant relationship with the powers that be and their narrowing approach to education... but most of all I am looking to find out what it means to be both a follower of Jesus Christ and a passionate educator in the midst of an unsettled community. I am also a part time musician, part time linguist and lover of history and literature...committed both to freedom to learn and depth of learning for all our children. The views on this blog are all my own, and not in any way those of the school I lead!

One response »

  1. Caroline says:

    If you watched BBC breakfast this morning the question was being raised about why the African attack had failed to make more headline news. It is good to see they are at least recognising their own shortcomings.
    I fail to see how some of the dead French who had no direct involvement in the production of the magazine could in anyway ‘be asking for it’

    The real issue is some group of people who are trying to start a new ‘religion’ are gaining ground so nowhere is safe. Whether it be America 9/11, July UK bomings, Paris, Belgium, Africa or anywhere else in the world. This group of cowards are utilising the word ‘Muslim’ to attempt to give themselves credibility for their new group, which as opposed to every major religion in the world whose message is love and peace have a message of hatred and destruction.
    I also understand that, contrary to this posing, those killed in Paris were not all ‘white’ but were themselves of various family origins and faiths.
    The postive outcome from the Paris killings was the witness of so many made, not about ‘freedom of speech’ but freedom of liberty.
    Of course being able to report an event in the media which takes place in the Western World will always be easier to report on, with the public’s insatiable desire to see the gruesome aftermath of such an event. The logistics of getting reports to / from more distant parts of the planet make other countries less desirable to report on. however we should consider very seriously what is happening in Africa and treat such events as demonstrations by those who wish to destroy as ‘practice runs’ for what will be launched in the Western World.

    I agree the African killings should have been reported on, just as it was right and just to report about Paris.

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