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Cardinal disputes report that Boko Haram is enslaving Christian women

Catholic World News - November 26, 2013

Without mentioning the Reuters news agency by name, Nigeria’s leading prelate has disputed a report that the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram is enslaving Christian women as “brides” and forcing them to convert to Islam.

“I am not aware of specific and proven cases,” said Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, the nation’s capital. “Even the Nigerian press has dedicated little space to news of this nature, obviously because it has found, so far, no solid evidence.”

The Reuters article, based on interviews with a local government official and a woman who had escaped from captivity, stated unequivocally, “In a new development, Boko Haram is abducting Christian women whom it converts to Islam on pain of death and then forces into ‘marriage’ with fighters - a tactic that recalls Joseph Kony's Lord’s Resistance Army in the jungles of Uganda.” Reuters reported that it had “verified [the woman’s] account of having been abducted with independent figures in the region.”

“That there are kidnappings is a fact, but I am not aware that there is a systematic campaign to kidnap Christian women in order to convert them to force them to marry Boko Haram members,” said Cardinal Onaiyekan. “This does not mean that there are [not] rapes of war. These things happen unfortunately in conflict zones.”

“I am sorry to say but there are people who spread rumors which are not controlled in order to accentuate the sense of persecution of Christians living in areas most at risk in Nigeria,” he added. “I do not think this helps us. It is always better to tell the truth.”

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