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Three Massacres In 48 Hours: The Bloody Flag Of Jihad

Al Shabab fighters
Al Shabab fighters

- Editorial-

PARIS - Should the three massacres perpetrated this past weekend in Kenya, Pakistan and Nigeria be approached separately? The incidents would appear to be unrelated, but all is not so simple.

In Nairobi, it took nearly three days to finally end the Westgate siege after al-Shabab, a Somali terrorist group, began their attack against the vast shopping mall in the Kenyan capital. Al-Shabab left a toll of 62 people dead and some 200 wounded.

In Nigeria, newspapers reported on Sunday that the Boko Haram militant group had attacked a small town called Borno, in the northeast of the country. Pillaging, setting fires to force families out of their homes before shooting them: 150 people have reportedly been killed by the attackers.

In Pakistan, a double suicide bombing against a Christian church in Peshawar during Sunday services killed more than 80 people and wounded dozens of others.

The circumstances are different from one country to another. Al-Shabab claims to have acted in retaliation to the Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. Boko Haram wants to establish an “emirate” in a region of Nigeria. The Pakistani Christian minority, already hounded by the law, also increasingly are the victims of various attacks.

A disturbing silence

There are no organizational links between al-Shabab, Boko Haram and the Pakistani group Jundallah. But all three claim to be products of Jihadism. They consider themselves to be part of the same movement: radical Islamism. They belong to this vast nebula that more or less follows al Qaeda’s example. They claim to act on behalf of Sunni Islam. They brandish slogans against the Christians, the Jews, the infidels.

At the very least, these references are those given by their spokesmen. They often conceal tribal conflicts, local ethnic wars, or even the actions of groups that purely and solely use armed banditry.

Each situation has its own singularity that too hasty a generalization might overlook. “Globalizing” and imagining one single mythical entity looking to pursue a common objective everywhere would be a mistake.

Still, one aspect remains constant: the phenomenon that Jihadism or the Jihadist tendency has an attraction in the Muslim world.

The young who leave to fight the Damascus regime rarely join the Free Syrian Army: they mostly enlist in the myriad of Jihadist groups that are now an important part of the rebellion.

This “ideological” totalitarian jumble has become the flag around which young people in the Muslim world are ready to take up arms . Glorified and mystified on the Internet, it authorizes any type of violence – and it is deadly. The strong voices of Islam should condemn it relentlessly. But we do not hear them.

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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