Christians are certainly under pressure in parts of the Middle East, but it must be emphasised that many more Muslims are killed as a result of jhadist violence, said a spokesman for a new BBC study on deaths attributed to Al-Qaeda and offshoot groups.
Asked by presenter Justin Webb on BBC radio on 11 November if there is ‘a war against Christians’, Professor Peter Neumann said ‘certainly in parts of the Middle East Christians are under a lot of pressure… however it is important to emphasize that 80 per cent of the victims of jihadist violence were Muslim, and that’s worth pointing out because these groups claim to act in the name of Islam, but the people they are killing are also Muslims’.
Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at Kings College, London, which co-ordinated the study, went on to say that the jihadi problem is ‘such an enormous movement in so many parts of the world that a few air strikes will not be the silver bullet’.
He said that President Obama’s notion to ‘destroy and defeat’ suggests that you can deal with the problem in a few months’ time. This is not realistic, Neumann said, ‘there needs to be a confrontation with the ideas from a religious perspective, as well as political, economic and social effort.
‘It will take many, many years, if not decades but the idea that you can quickly deal with that problem is not realistic.’
The study found that ISIS was responsible for most (2206) of the 5042 killed in 14 countries in the name of jihad during November, followed by Boko Haram which killed 786 in Nigeria in the same month.
Neumann added that Islamic State ‘has rivalled – if not replaced – Al-Qaeda as the leader of global jihadism.