Politics
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks at an unknown location in this still image taken from an undated video released by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram. (REUTERS/Boko Haram handout via Reuters TV) Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks at an unknown location in this still image taken from an undated video released by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram. (REUTERS/Boko Haram handout via Reuters TV)  

US Muslim Groups Won’t Move To Excommunicate Boko Haram

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

U.S. Islamic leaders won’t try to formally excommunicate the Islamist Boko Haram group unless they can meet with its leadership to debate the religious legitimacy of its actions, a spokesman for a leading mosque told The Daily Caller.

“There is a great reluctance to excommunicate someone by extension. … It would be like convicting someone in absentia,” said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the spokesman for the “Home of the Migrants” mosque, or Dar Al Hijrah mosque, in Falls Church Va. If crimes have been committed, the Nigerian government should punish the individuals, he added.

On May 7, Abdul Malik led a group of Muslim advocates at a press conference at the National Press Club, where they denied that Islamic strictures are shaping Boko Haram’s years-long campaign of killing and kidnapping Christians.

“Islam is not the problem,” said Ahmed Bedier, a Florida-based Islamic advocate. “We’re tired of people coming on television and asking where does this ideology come from,” Bedier said. “Well, this ideology comes from nowhere,” he insisted.

The Islamic leaders’ defensiveness was slammed by Rahil Raza, a Canadian Muslim who is working to modernize the faith.

Established Islamic leaders “have to look long and hard at the Sharia [Islamic law] that Boko Haram is using … [because] it is an ideology of violence,” said Raza, who is president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, a Canadian Islamic group. ”We’ve got to stop living in the past, stop living in the 7th and 8th centuries and start living in the 21st century,” she said.

At his May 7 event, Abdul-Malik urged Boko Haram to change its view of Islam, even as he declined to challenge its religious claims. “Groups like Boko Haram desire to take us back to a medieval … world where kidnapping of women and girls and enslavement and rape are acceptable,” he said.

“The world has changed … [and] in particular we are saying as modern day Muslims that we now reject all of these acts and that they are contrary to our faith,” he said.

However, Abdul-Malik didn’t promise any religious or political action by U.S. Islamic groups. When pressed May 9 by TheDC to cite Islamic texts that contradict Boko Haram’s Islamist arguments, Abdul-Malik quickly ended the phone call.

The May 7 meeting highlighted the political and P.R. nightmare facing U.S. Islamic groups as the mainstream media devotes hostile coverage to the April kidnapping of roughly 276 unguarded girls — reportedly all of whom were Christian — by the Nigerian-based Islamist group, informally called Boko Haram.

But even some media outlets that have given sympathetic coverage to the girls — plus White House and State Department officials —- have repeatedly tried to downplay the Islamist ideology that powers Boko Haram, and have instead suggested that the group’s members are merely rebels against corrupt government and poverty.

But those suggestions don’t explain why the group has killed thousands of Christian civilians, launched numerous bomb and suicide-bomb attacks against schools and churches, and has kidnapped more than 200 teenage girls for possible sale in slave markets.