U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown on Friday criticized U.S. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., for saying the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian had nothing to do with Islam and that religion should “not be confused with some of these horrible terrorist acts.”
“Boko Haram proudly shares al-Qaida’s mission and ideology,” Brown said in a statement. “They see themselves as jihadists fighting for Islam. They kidnapped these girls and are now forcing them to embrace radical Islam in all respects. It is naive to think they have nothing to do with religion. They embrace a twisted form of Islam that is spreading around the world and which is intent on destroying Western society.”
Brown’s statement was prompted by discussion before a Senate hearing Thursday.
Robert Jackson, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of African Affairs, said: “The message that all the Muslim leaders who have spoken out, whether religious leaders or political leaders have passed is that this is not about Islam, and I think that’s a very important point. Boko Haram’s philosophy is not an Islamic philosophy.”
Shaheen then said: “I agree and I’m glad that you made that point. Clearly, we need to make sure that Islam is not confused with some of these horrible terrorist acts that have been and continue to be perpetrated by terrorists groups.”
Shaheen spokesman Shripal Shah said Friday: “Senator Shaheen was clearly noting that the actions of Boko Haram terrorists are not a reflection of the entire Islamic faith. Any attempt to distort what she said for political gain is ridiculous.”
Julie McClain, communications director for the state Democratic Party, called Brown’s statement “yet another shameless political ploy to distract from Scott Brown’s lobbying to kill a bill that would’ve created nearly 200,000 jobs, all while lining his pockets with Wall Street money at a hedge fund conference.
“It’s an insult to the many great American Muslims who live in New Hampshire and proves that Scott Brown will stoop to any level to try and score political points,” McClain said.
A statement from Brown’s statement referenced a recent video titled “New Video Boko Haram Kidnapped Girls Converted To Islam” that shows the girls chanting Muslim prayers at an undisclosed place.
Brown is looking to win the GOP primary to face Shaheen, the expected Democratic nominee, this fall.
Brown’s campaign pointed out that two years ago, Brown, while a U.S. senator from Massachusetts introduced the “Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2012,” requesting that Boko Haram be looked at as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
His bill was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee, a committee Senator Shaheen sits on, but no action was taken. Brown also wrote a letter to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to designate Boko Haram as an FTO.
On Thursday, the State Department said it could have acted sooner, but the Nigerian government and many African experts opposed that idea two years ago, according to a published report.