Media Imbalance on the Nairobi & Peshawar Massacres

On a weekend in which 75 Christians were killed by jihadists outside a Church in Pakistan, you may wonder why the main news (by far!) was the killing of 68 people in Nairobi (Kenya) -- also by jihadists. (The UK's 'Islamophobic' Daily Mail hasn't featured it all so far and the 'right wing' Telegraph only featured it in its 'World' section.)

There must be reasons for this very large imbalance. So I will suggest a few.

In terms of the British media, it may have something to do with the fact that Britain is home to at the very least 1.2 million Pakistani Muslims. The other reason is that the plight of Pakistani Christians is largely overlooked by our mainstream media -- both tabloid and 'serious'. As for the British government, the plight of Christians in Pakistan is almost literally completely ignored.

As for the focus on Nairobi rather than Pakistan, there must be reasons for this too.

One: acts of terrorism and jihadist violence are everyday occurrences in Pakistan -- not so in Kenya (despite it having its own problems and its bordering Somalia). The other possible -- if rather perverse -- reason may be that the victims in Kenya were shoppers in a shopping center, whereas the Christian victims in Pakistan were coming out of a church. Again, attacks against churches and Christians in Pakistan are commonplace, whereas attacks on shopping centers are infrequent if altogether unknown.

In the case of Pakistan, two bombs went off outside a church in Peshawar. Seventy-five people were killed and 120 wounded. The massacre was a result of two suicide bombers blowing themselves up as the Christian worshipers came out of a church (All Saints) after Sunday Mass.

The relatives of the victims protested at the scene at the government's failure -- or unwillingness -- to protect Christians in Pakistan. (Interfaith is not very strong in Pakistan. It is in the UK.) Christians have also held demonstrations in other Pakistani cities. In Karachi, for example, the police fired tear gas and bullets into the air in order to disperse hundreds of protestors.

Peshawar is on the border of Afghanistan. The Pakistani Muslims of Peshawar are indistinguishable -- in terms of tribe and religion -- from their brothers across the border in Afghanistan. (Geographically, historically, and ethnically, the border is highly artificial.) The Muslims in Peshawar are largely Pashtun, as are the Afghans over the border.

Over 99% of Peshawar's population is Muslim, mostly Sunni. Despite that, previously -- as has also been the case in so many other places in the Muslim world -- Peshawar was once home to many other communities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, and Zoroastrians. Clearly this was yet another attempt to drive Christians out of the city; as the Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians had been driven out previously. In that sense, Peshawar's Muslims -- or at least some of them -- are attempting to go one step beyond apartheid by actually driving out all non-Muslims from the city; rather than by giving them the traditional status of dhimmi under Islam's apartheid system.

One can only presume that Islamic al-Shabaab was attempting to do something similar to what happened in Peshawar. After all, it is common knowledge that Osama bin Laden's chief aim was most certainly not the 'liberation of Palestine' or even the liberation of Afghanistan. His main aim was the removal of all 'unbelievers' from The Two Holy Places (Mecca and Medina) and ultimately from the whole of Saudi Arabia. And why not? Muhammad the Prophet himself demanded that only one religion, Islam, should be allowed to exist in the Arabia of his day. Indeed he said:

"I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian peninsula [Jazirat al-'Arab] and will not leave any but Muslims.' (Quoted in Sahih Muslim)

And from that time onwards, Muhammad set out to systemically rid (or 'ethnically cleanse') Arabia of all Jews and Christians.

It's no surprise, then, that al-Shabaab singled out Muslims for life and the rest for death in this latest event in the 1,400-year-long jihad against the 'unbeliever'. Witnesses have said that the killers told all the Muslims to leave. One Kenyan survivor, a Elijah Lamau, said: "They came and said: 'If you are Muslim, stand up. We've come to rescue you'."

It has to be stated, however, that al-Shabaab claimed it was responding to Kenya's military actions in Somalia. Nonetheless, those military actions, by the Kenyans, were themselves responses to al-Shabaab's actions within Kenya. So we can ask, here, whether the chicken or the egg came first in this instance.

Three British nationals were also killed in this attack. Perhaps because of that, the British Prime Minister David Cameron said:

"These appalling terrorist attacks that take place where the perpetrators claim they do it in the name of a religion -- they don't...They don't represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world."

There is something hugely absurd and ridiculous about a non-Muslim British prime minister lecturing Muslims on the true nature of Islam. I could even accept such trite stuff from a non-Muslim academic or even an interfaith guru -- but from David Cameron?

I presume that al-Shabaab lives and breathes Islam. Its members will read the Koran and hadith everyday and they will also be fully acquainted with the life of Muhammad and Islamic history. Cameron, on the other hand, will know next to nothing about Islam. He will also feel he has no need to go into the details; after all, he's an immensely busy man. Any Islam he does get will be care of his advisers. He will also have received a few very short lectures -- or missives -- from 'community leaders' or professionals in the interfaith business. In other words, he will be getting his Islam with lots and lots of treacle on top of it. He will be getting what should be called Interfaith Islam. I say this because, as I said earlier, al-Shabaab has the Prophet Muhammad's own behavior and words to go on. He too wanted to rid his own Arabia of every 'unbeliever'.

Incidentally, despite what David Cameron said, there are indeed Muslims in the UK who think that al-Shabaab 'represent Islam [and] Muslims in Britain'. What's more, there will be quite a few additional Muslims who also believe this but who nonetheless don't publicly broadcast it -- at least not at interfaith meetings or to the British Prime Minister himself.