New Hampshire senator Jeanne Shaheen says Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group that has kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian girls from their families and forced them to convert to Islam, should not be confused with Islam. The Democrat made the point in a Thursday hearing.
One of the hearing's witnesses, State Department official Robert Jackson, prompted Shaheen's comment when he argued that "Boko Haram's philosophy is not an Islamist philosophy."
"I agree and I’m glad you made that point," said Shaheen. "Clearly, we need to make sure Islam is not confused with some of these horrible terrorist acts that have been and continue to be perpetrated by terrorists groups."
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The Boko Haram organization seeks to overthrow the government of Nigeria and install an Islamic state. As the BBC notes, the group "promotes a version of Islam which makes it 'haram', or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society."
Republican Scott Brown, who is challenging Shaheen for her seat, said in a statement that it is "naive" to say Boko Haram has nothing to do with Islam. The Brown campaign has also pointed out that when he represented Massachsuetts in the Senate, Brown introduced a bill in 2012 that would have designated Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, though it died in committee. The senator also sent a letter to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to do the same.