June 18, 2012

AP Report From Nigeria Waits Nine Paragraphs to Tag Boko Haram Responsibility for Murderous Church Bombings

So here’s how it appears to me and I suspect many other news readers, never mind the real motivations. At the Associated Press, when you’re covering situations like suicide bomber attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria yesterday, you hold out as long as you can in speculating about who is responsible, even though Islamist Boko Haram terrorists (and only Boko Haram terrorists) have claimed credit for previous attacks in that country, and even though no other religion on earth generates large numbers of people who claim to be its adherents who are willing to blow themselves up so they can kill as many infidels as possible.

Then, once the inevitable claim of responsibility arrives, you treat it as old news (the bombings were a whole 24-36 hours ago, y’know), focus your headline and coverage on “Christian” reprisals instead (even though there is no element of Christian doctrine which sanctions random reprisals), and identify who carried out the attacks as late as you possibly, so it will end up not making most broadcast and many print reports. Here are excerpts:

Nigeria: Reprisal killings follow church attacks

Aid workers searched for bodies Monday among charred vehicles and destroyed market stalls after a trio of church bombings sparked reprisal killings in northern Nigeria, officials said. The Nigerian Red Cross said the death toll had more than doubled, to 50 people.

A radical Islamist sect on Monday claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide attacks at two churches in the city of Zaria and another in the city of Kaduna that left 21 people dead, according to an initial count.

The reprisals highlight festering religious tensions in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people. The attacks occurred in the religious flashpoint state of Kaduna that sits at the border between the country’s predominantly Muslim north and its mainly Christian south. A history of attacks and counterattacks between the two communities means that authorities are often cautious about releasing death figures.

… Authorities fear that a breakdown of the deaths will trigger revenge killings. Most of the victims killed in church on Sunday are presumed to be Christian and most of those killed in reprisal attacks are presumed to be Muslim, raising concerns that a distinction between initial and reprisal deaths will be interpreted as a Christian and Muslim breakdown.

The group known as Boko Haram said in an email that it was responsible for the attacks.

“Allah has given us victory in the attacks we launched (Sunday) against churches in Kaduna and Zaria towns which resulted in the deaths of many Christians and security personnel,” the statement said in the local Hausa language.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in Hausa, is waging an increasingly bloody fight with Nigeria’s security agencies and public.

There is no excuse for the failure by AP reporters Godwin Attah and Yinka Ibukun to specifically identify the “radical Islamist sect” in the second paragraph.

And excuse me, guys, but the “bloody fight” isn’t with “the public,” it’s with Christians and anyone else who will not “submit.” As I wrote yesterday, “things would probably be much more peaceful in that country if Boko Haram weren’t engaging in serial terrorism.” But they are, even if AP and Reuters won’t call out the Boko Haram “sect” as the terrorists they really are.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Congrats! Don’t go gettin’ a big head now.

    Comment by Joe C. — June 18, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  2. Oh, I get just a couple of hours, don’t I?

    Comment by Tom — June 18, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

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