Some two thousand miles away in Deir ez-Zur, Syria, Islamists have besieged the city of 120,000 souls. Women are raped in the street, men beheaded on the banks of the Euphrates, and children are left to starve. The Islamic State (aka Daesh) is in control, and our media and political class insist that we must open our borders to those who can flee the persecution.
Some two thousand miles away in Dalori, Nigeria, Islamists have beseiged the village of an unknown number of souls. Women are shot, men blown to smithereens, and children burned alive in their homes. Boko Haram (which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, aka Daesh) is in control, and our media and political class have condemned the slaughter.
Why does the EU insist on opening its borders to Syrian refugees fleeing the Islamist terror, but not to Nigerian refugees fleeing the Islamist terror? Tens of thousands are scrambling for their lives; hundreds of thousands are internally displaced, living and partly living in the squalor and stench of faeces-ridden cities of sodden canvas. Yet we offer sanctuary only to Middle-Eastern evacuees, and not to those from Sub-Saharan Africa. Why is that?
Are Daesh suicide bombers more deadly than those of Boko Haram? Do raped Syrian women cry louder or longer than raped Nigerians? Is the whining of starving children worse than the squealing of those burning to death? Don’t the bodies of Nigerian men bleed as much as Syrians? Isn’t a Boko Haram bullet just as deadly as one fired by Daesh?
It is estimated that Boko Haram has slaughtered around 20,000 and driven 2.5 million Nigerians from their homes over the past six years. Our media and political class routinely condemn the barbarity, which is every bit as agonising as the struggle and strife throughout Syria. Indeed, according to the Global Terrorism Index, Boko Haram has overtaken Daesh as the world’s deadliest terror group. But not a senior voice is raised in Church or State demanding immediate asylum for Nigerians – not even for 3,000 orphans plucked directly from the soulless refugee camps of Minawao. The BBC helpfully provides facts at-a-glance; the Guardian reports matter-of-factly; politicians are mostly mute, and the bishops.. well..
My Lords, will the Minister join me in expressing his appreciation of those moderate Muslims who have spoken out in this country against Boko Haram and in emphasising the continuing need to be proactive in drawing together those communities that would easily find themselves pitched against each other in our towns and cities?
Why aren’t politicians, bishops and the media screaming for the EU to open its borders to the Nigerian victims of Islamist barbarity? Is it ‘cos they is black? Or is it ‘cos they is Christian? Does God love Nigerians less than Syrians? Does He care less about their burning? Is the humanity and dignity of the black Nigerian not equal to that of the brown Syrian? Is their oppression any less? Before the Cross, is our relative institutionalised indifference not crying out for a political theology to challenge the callous ranking of the suffering of other human ‘others’?