Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
Quite apart from the Nigerian would-be plane bomber’s lack of success, there are other reasons why Africa’s most populous nation cannot be expected to produce a rash of similar cases.
As this Reuters story from Sahabi Yahaya in the bomber’s home town of Funtua points out, it is Umar Abdulmutallab’s foreign education rather than his background in Muslim northern Nigeria that is seen as having radicalised him.
The relatively affluent upbringing is not too dissimilar to that of some of the Sept. 11 attackers or Al Qaeda recruits for other attacks, but makes him a particular exception in Nigeria. Most people live on less than $2 a day and many would give almost anything just to have got aboard the plane he tried to blow up. Every year, tens of thousands of Abdulmutallab’s compatriots brave deserts, oceans and unsympathetic immigration police to try to get to the West for just a taste of the chances he had and to take whatever work they can get to better themselves and their families.
Although only around half of Nigeria’s population is Muslim, that still gives it the sixth biggest Muslim population in the world.
So far the exact toll from the latest bout of religious rioting in northern Nigeria is not clear. At least 150 have died and the toll may well go higher.
The killings are bad enough, but the north has experienced much worse within living memory. One of the bloodiest outbreaks of religious rioting occurred in Kano in 1980, and northern cities saw a series of upheavals during the decade that followed.
Four months later the Briton was killed by al Qaeda’s North African wing, which had been demanding the release of Abu Qatada, a Jordanian Islamist being held in Britain.
By reaching the gates of Khartoum, Darfur rebels have dealt one of the heaviest blows to Sudan’s traditionally Arab ruling elite since independence in 1956.
Early on Sunday, it looked as though government assertions that the army had beaten back the initial assault were true, but what is the attack going to mean for Africa’s biggest country and the way it is run?