IMAGINE if after the Manchester Arena bombing of May 2017 a foreign head of state had attempted to excuse Salman Abedi for the murder of 22 people, ten of them aged under 20, and the horrible wounding of hundreds of others by claiming that ‘climate change’ was to blame.
This is precisely what happened after some 40 Nigerians, including many children, were butchered by Muslim terrorists calling themselves the Islamic State West Africa Province at a Catholic church on Pentecost Sunday.
Irish President Michael D Higgins, in his great wisdom (Pope Francis once described him as a ‘wise man of today’), offered moral parity to the killers by suggesting they too were suffering, but from the harm done to their planet by white people enjoying foreign holidays and driving cars fuelled by diesel or petrol.
News travels fast even in sub-Saharan Africa in the internet age, and Higgins’s insensitivity to the victims of the slaughter provoked a backlash which must have surprised him, given that he has since denied blaming the atrocity at St Francis Xavier Church in Ondo State on climate change.
So, for clarity, this is exactly what President Michael D Higgins said in his message of condolence: ‘That such an attack was made in a place of worship is a source of particular condemnation, as is any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change.
‘The neglect of food security issues in Africa for so long has brought us to a point of crisis that is now having internal and regional effects based on struggles, ways of life themselves.
‘The solidarity of us all, as peoples of the world, is owed to all those impacted not only by this horrible event but in the struggle by the most vulnerable on whom the consequences of climate change have been inflicted.’
It is obvious to many that some political ideologues are foolish beyond belief (remember that Abedi was allowed to stroll into the Manchester Arena with a bomb strapped conspicuously to his back because security staff thought it would be racist to check him). But this is taking it to a new level.
The Catholic Bishop of Ondo, Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, was not going to let the statement of the ninth President of the Irish Republic pass without comment, and condemned it as ‘incorrect and far-fetched’.
He said: ‘To suggest or make a connection between victims of terror and consequences of climate change is not only misleading but also exactly rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria.
‘The victims of terrorism are of another category to which nothing can be compared. It is very clear to anyone who has been closely following the events in Nigeria over the past years that the underpinning issues of terror attacks, banditry, and unabated onslaught in Nigeria and in the Sahel Region and climate change have nothing in common . . .
‘Terrorists are on free loose slaughtering, massacring, injuring, and installing terror in different parts of Nigeria since over eight years not because of any reasonable thing but because they are evil — period.’
Lord Alton of Liverpool, the crossbench peer and human rights campaigner, said: ‘It is striking how quickly politicians and commentators trot out the same discredited banal narrative that the drivers for such carnage are climate change and lack of resources.’
Last year 4,650 Nigerian Christians were murdered for their faith, with a further 900 perishing violently at the hands of jihadists in the first three months of 2022.
Nigeria is rated the seventh most dangerous country in the world for Christians by the Open Doors human rights group. These Christians owe their faith to the many Catholic and Anglican missionaries from the UK and Ireland who made huge sacrifices to spread the Gospel among them, and they are surely justified if they feel they have been deserted to carry their cross alone.
It is true that the West has contributed to their suffering, but not by creating a ‘climate change’ crisis. Rather, it started wars it couldn’t finish, it recklessly recruited and armed jihadi radicals to fight for its interests in places such as Syria and Libya, and then turned a blind eye to the vast amounts of high-grade weaponry that found its way south across the Sahara where it is deployed against black Christian civilians.
This doesn’t bother US President Joe Biden who last year decided that Nigeria should not be designated as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ – almost as irresponsible as unilaterally withdrawing from Afghanistan and allowing the Taliban to walk straight back into Kabul.
Nor is it only Nigeria and Afghanistan which have been left to fend for themselves by the leaders of the free world. Most of the nations of the Sahel – the southern shores of the Sahara Desert – have been witnessing massacres of civilians by jihadists on an unprecedented scale since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya at the hands of the rebels of the Arab Spring with the help of the UK and France.
What naïve folly it was to hope that the demise of Gaddafi would usher in a golden era of liberal democracy for North Africa. Instead, it was the catalyst for anarchy, for mass movement of migrants across the Mediterranean and for the attempted violent conquest of the non-Islamic regions on the periphery of the Sahara by Islamists who were suddenly heavily armed from the Libyan conflict and heavily indoctrinated in Salafi and Wahhabi ideology.
Countries including Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger have been attacked by groups like the Al-Mulathamun Battalion and by the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin. Boko Haram has kidnapped and butchered its way across northern Nigeria and parts of Chad and Niger, but few outfits compare in ruthlessness and efficiency to the Islamic State of the Greater Sahara, which was founded in 2015. This group seeks to turn Nigeria into an Islamist state under the rule of Sharia law and spread violence to neighbouring countries including Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin.
These lands have become a front line in the struggle against Islamists who seek the destruction of Christian civilisation and the advance of their own ideology. The wars that have marked the early part of the 21st century are not over yet. But don’t expect to hear too much about them because Western politicians are uninterested in the plight of the real victims and intellectually dishonest in their analyses of the problems. They probably think they have enough on their plate with Russia.
So they prefer to pretend that every Islamist massacre is a result of something else – something fashionable like ‘climate change’ – revealing not only their incompetence but how perilously and manifestly unfit the West has become in rising to meet the real challenges of this age.