by Matthew Hamilton
Islamic Jihadists are currently fighting on multiple fronts against Christians and other non-Muslim peoples across massive swaths of North, West, and East Africa. The scope of these Islamist advances in Africa is hard to overestimate; it is quite possible that what we are witnessing in Africa constitutes nothing less than the swiftest and most dramatic advance of Islamist power in history. Here is a brief (and incomplete) overview of Jihadist activities on the continent.
The Muslim Brotherhood has won the presidential election and is close to obtaining total control of the country with only the nation’s military slowing down their progress. How long the military can hold out is anyone’s guess, but they most certainly can’t do so indefinitely. When the military does lose control, a terrorist organization will rule a nation of 81 million people. And the future for the Egyptian Coptic Christians is likely to go from bad to worse as persecution ranging from verbal harassment to rape and murder have skyrocketed since the fall of Mubarak.
The harbinger of the Arab Spring has similarly witnessed the emergence of powerful Islamist forces and is facing the impending implementation of Sharia law. The Islamist parties that now dominate Tunisia’s government will become increasingly draconian once their position in the government is solidified. Despite the rhetoric of separation between religion and politics by the dominating Islamist faction, The Ennahda Movement, violations of religious freedom and freedom of the press are becoming increasingly common as Sharia is enforced not only as de facto rule of law but also de jure.
The state has fallen into a medieval Islamist chaos. Most of the country’s northern territories where the major cities sit along the Mediterranean are under the control of the interim government, but the south of the country is largely ruled by various tribal factions and terrorist organizations that are more often than not imposing Sharia law in their respective areas of influence and skirmishing for control. Some good news is that preliminary results from Libya’s elections indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood will not dominate the new government. However, the new constitution calls for the Sharia to be the basis for Libyan law and for Islam to be established as the state religion.
Following the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, the North was overrun by Tuaregs and various Jihadist organizations largely armed with weaponry captured from Qaddafi’s stockpiles. As of now, somewhere near two-thirds of Mali is under control of the Jihadists including the fabled city of Timbuktu. The crisis led to a military coup in Mali which has increased instability and further degenerated the government’s ability to protect its sovereignty. Jihadists such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) now have a very secure base of operations to launch attacks against Algeria and nearby states in West Africa.
A country on the brink of fracturing, thanks in large part to the incessant attacks by the Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram. Based in the country’s predominately Muslim North, Boko Haram is waging Jihad against Christians as well as against the Nigerian government in an effort to carve out an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria. They have made headlines around the world almost weekly with their murderous bombings against churches and government institutions. In 2005, the CIA predicted that by 2020, Northern Nigeria could become an independent Islamic state; by the looks of things, that is a very real possibility.
The Islamic-Arab government of Khartoum is continuing its reign of terror against non-Arabs and Christians in the south of the country along the border with mostly non-Muslim South Sudan. Sudan is engaged in ruthlessly bombing civilian populations and razing churches in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile State in a campaign of both religious and ethnic cleansing. In the last year, 500,000 civilians have fled and are now living as refugees and hundreds of thousands are in danger of starvation.
Historically, Ethiopia has been the bastion defending East Africa against Islam’s advance south. However cracks are forming in the predominately Christian nation’s defenses. Persecution of Christians and terrorist attacks are on the rise, particularly in areas of the state with populations that are mostly Muslim. In many of these areas, Sharia law is been implemented by local officials and de facto by Muslim communities.
Still reeling from contentious elections that left the state politically unstable, Kenya has become an increasingly popular target for Jihadists from the Islamic paradise of Somalia where terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and Al-Shabaab have uninhibited room to base their operations. Recently, several churches were attacked with grenades near the border with Somalia and a bar in Mombasa was also attacked by Jihadists; Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.
The semi-autonomous island off the coast of Tanzania is also falling into chaos. The secular government is finding it increasingly difficult to contain Islamic separatists seeking full independence from Tanzania and the formation of an Islamic state. The Islamists in Zanzibar are rising in popularity and their numbers are growing at an alarming rate. Recently, two churches were fire-bombed by Jihadists, and the isolated Christians community is living under the shadow of Islamic persecution.