It has been a deeply distressing weekend for all who care about Christians abroad. About 60 people have been murdered coming out of Mass by suicide bombers in Peshawar, Pakistan, and a considerable number have been killed (the death toll is still unclear) at a shopping mall in Nairobi by members of a Somali terrorist gang which specifically targeted non-Muslims, which in Kenya means Christians.
Both these incidents require a nuanced but nevertheless forthright response.
The Pakistani government has a long and proven record of not only failing to protect its minorities, but actually persecuting such minorities. The crime in Peshawar is to be blamed on the perpetrators, but it is also the fault of the Pakistani government, which has failed to protect its Christian citizens and which has given in to extremism by passing discriminatory blasphemy laws.
There is little any reader of The Catholic Herald can do to influence the Pakistani government, one fears, but one can ask our elected representatives in Britain why our government is so friendly to Pakistan. Why do Hague and Cameron give comfort to an anti-Christian regime?
The Kenyan case is different. Here one must sympathise with the ordinary people of Kenya (among whom I lived for four years). Their government has failed over the last few decades to do anything to stem the rising tide of violent crime which blights the country. This means that Kenya is a place where no one is safe, rich or poor, and where everyone spends their entire time looking over their shoulder. Shopping malls are popular in Nairobi among the affluent who can afford to use them because they were thought to be safer than the streets. Not any more, sadly.
The failure of the Kenyan government to protect its citizens is a blanket failure, so it cannot be claimed that the government of Kenya is sectarian (at least not in the regard). On top of ordinary violent crime, such as the daily murders, burglaries, assaults and car and busjackings, Kenyans have for some time had to face the horrors of terrorism, ever since the bombing of the US embassy in 1998, which killed 213 people, the vast majority of the Kenyans.
So, what can we do to help Kenya? Kenya is another key British ally, just like Pakistan. One way the British Government could help is by taking a tough attitude against corruption, for it is government corruption in Kenya that is responsible for its police force being little short of a national joke, though a joke at the expense of the Kenyan people.
There was once a British High Commissioner to Kenya who dared to say what everyone knew to be true. He called out the corrupt in a powerful speech back in 2004. It won him no friends in Kenya, and (what may surprise some, but shouldn’t) no friends in Whitehall. The sad truth is that the British Government does not care about ordinary Kenyans; it only cares about keeping in with the Lords of Misrule. And the same is true in the case of Pakistan.
Our Government may well say it deplores attacks on Christians the world over, but it will continue, one fears, to support governments that make such attacks possible. In the case of Syria it will continue, one fears, to aid the very people who attack Christians. Next time there is an election in Britain, let us remember this.