FaithWorld

Nigerian Christians warn of religious war after two dozen die in Christmas bombing

(A car burns at the scene of a bomb explosion at St. Theresa Catholic Church at Madalla, Suleja, just outside Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 25, 2011. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

Northern Nigerian Christians said on Tuesday they feared that a spate of Chrtistmas Day bombings by Islamist militants that killed over two dozen people could lead to a religious war in Africa’s most populous country. The warning was made in a statement by the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella organization comprising various denominations including Catholics, Protestant and Pentecostal churches.

The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia Islamic law across Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the blasts, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian churches.

Saidu Dogo, secretary general for the organization in Nigeria’s 19 northern provinces called on Muslim leaders to control their faithful, saying Christians will be forced to defend themselves against further attacks. “We fear that the situation may degenerate to a religious war and Nigeria may not be able to survive one. Once again, ‘enough is enough!’,” Dogo said.

The attacks risk reviving tit-for-tat sectarian violence between the mostly Muslim north and the largely Christian south, which has claimed thousands of lives in the past decade.

Nigerian security service says politicians sponsor Boko Haram Islamists

(Shattered remnants are seen at the site of a bomb blast at a bar in the Nigerian northeastern city of Maiduguri July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer)

Nigerian politicians are funding members of a radical Islamist sect responsible for dozens of shootings and bombings this year in the north and capital of Africa’s most populous nation, the state security service (SSS) has said.  Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden”, has carried out near daily attacks in the remote northeast in Borno state, where Nigeria borders Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Although parts of the sect say they want sharia law more widely applied across Nigeria and threaten international targets, most factions are focused on local issues and carry out politically motivated attacks.

In Nigeria’s northeast, some sympathy for Boko Haram’s violent Islamists

(Burnt vehicles are seen at the ECWA church compound in New Jerusalem area of Damaturu, Yobe state, North east Nigeria, November 8, 2011. Nigeria's police said on Tuesday they had arrested suspected members of an Islamist sect behind coordinated attacks in the north of the country. REUTERS/Olatunji Omirin)

Wiping grease onto his t-shirt outside his bicycle repair shack, Baba Gana points to a bomb blast site across the street and explains why this northeastern Nigerian town of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, has sympathy for radical Islamists who terrorise its inhabitants.

The remote region has been elevated from obscurity in the last two years by the increasingly deadly Boko Haram, whose name in the local Hausa language translates as “Western education is forbidden”. The sect has carried out dozens of assassinations, shootings and bomb attacks in Borno state this year, often targeting military and religious figures.

Nigeria’s violent Islamists Boko Haram joining with global jihadists: army

(A man stands outside a burnt shed which housed a generator in Damaturu, Yobe state, North east Nigeria, November 8, 2011. Nigeria's police said on Tuesday they had arrested suspected members of an Islamist sect behind coordinated attacks in the north of the country that killed at least 65 people late last week. REUTERS/Olatunji Omirin)

A violent Islamist sect responsible for scores of killings in northeast Nigeria is increasingly linking up with global jihadist movements like al Qaeda, a military commander in the area told Reuters. Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed, a senior military official in the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), was speaking at a government house at the end of dusty track in Maiduguri, the heartland of the Boko Haram insurgency.

“Boko Haram is al Qaeda,” he said. “I see perfect links. It cuts across boundaries. Al Qaeda has no boundary, Boko Haram has no boundary. All terrorists, one problem,” said Mohammed, dressed in camouflage and flanked by armed soldiers.

Radical Islamist bombings hurting foreign investment in Nigeria – president

(Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (C, in baseball cap) surveys the scene a day after a bomb blast ripped through the United Nations offices in the Nigerian capital of Abuja August 27, 2011/State House/Handout)

Nigeria’s security challenges following bombings by a radical Islamist sect are holding back some foreign investment in the oil-rich country, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Monday. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, has claimed responsibility for a series of recent bombings in Africa’s most populous nation, including a blast last month at the U.N. headquarters in the capital which killed 23 people.

“We are worried about the security challenges we are now facing in the country because it is preventing investors coming into the country,” the president said in an interview on local NTA television. “I assure you this situation will be brought under control.”

Nigeria arrests 100 suspected members of violent Islamist sect Boko Haram

(Shattered remnants at the site of a bomb blast at a bar in the Nigerian northeastern city of Maiduguri that killed five people and injured 10 more in the latest apparent attack by Boko Haram, July 3, 2011/Stringer)

Nigeria’s state security service (SSS) has arrested more than 100 suspected members of radical Islamist sect Boko Haram and had foiled a spate of attempted bombings in the past month and a half. Guerrilla attacks on police stations and assassinations by gunmen on motorbikes have killed more than 150 people since the start of the year in the remote northeastern state of Borno. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for much of the violence.

Insecurity in parts of northern Nigeria has rapidly replaced militant attacks on oil infrastructure hundreds of kilometres away in the southern Niger Delta as the main security risk in Africa’s most populous nation in recent months.

Q+A-What is Nigeria’s radical Islamist sect Boko Haram?

(Members of the local Islamic group Boko Haram lie on the ground at a police station after their arrest in the northeastern city of Bauchi, July 25, 2009/Ardo Hazzad)

 

Nigeria’s radical Islamist sect Boko Haram is suspected to be behind almost daily attacks in the remote northeast and claimed a series of bomb blasts further afield last month. Following are questions and answers on who the group are, what they want, and whether their ideology is widely followed.

WHAT IS BOKO HARAM?

Based in Maiduguri, capital of the northeastern state of Borno, it was initially led by self-proclaimed Islamic scholar, Mohammed Yusuf, who was radically opposed to Western education and wanted strict sharia Islamic law adopted across Nigeria.

Violent Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram rejects amnesty offer

(Members of an local Islamic group lie on the ground at a police station after their arrest in the northeastern city of Bauchi, July 25, 2009/Ardo Hazzad)

A radical Islamist sect in remote northeastern Nigeria, blamed for almost daily killings and attacks, has rejected an offer of an amnesty. Kashim Shettima, governor-elect of Borno state, made the amnesty offer to the Boko Haram sect shortly after winning April elections to try to end months of attacks on symbols of authority including politicians and police officers.

“We reject any offer of dialogue or so-called amnesty from Kashim Shettima for two reasons,” a spokesman for the group said in a statement broadcast on the BBC Hausa service, a local language radio station in northern Nigeria, on Monday. “First we do not believe in the Nigerian constitution and secondly we do not believe in democracy but only in the laws of Allah,” the spokesman said, speaking in Hausa.

Nigerian elections seal major power shift to largely Christian south


(Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan casts his ballot in his home village of Otuoke, Bayelsa state April 16, 2011/Joseph Penney)

A decisive election victory by President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria has shifted power firmly to the largely Christian south from the Muslim north and could reopen political fissures in Africa’s top energy supplier.

Violence swept northern cities, leaving hundreds of people dead and many homeless after Jonathan’s crushing victory over his northern opponent Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler.

“Jonathan’s landslide, though on the surface it appears like a resounding pan-Nigeria mandate, has brought back with a vengeance all the religious and sectional cleavage, not to mention ethnic bitterness,” Olakunle Abimbola of The Nation newspaper wrote in a column.

Nigerian president appeals to Muslim leaders before vote

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(Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at a campaign rally in Kano, northern Nigeria, March 16, 2011S/Joe Penney)

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to Muslim leaders to help ensure that elections next month, which risk stoking regional rivalries, pass off peacefully. Africa’s most populous nation holds presidential, parliamentary and state governorship elections spread over three weeks in April, all of which are set to be fiercely contested.

Jonathan met on Sunday with the Sultan of Sokoto, one of Nigeria’s most influential Islamic leaders, and other senior figures from the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Muslim umbrella organisation Jamatul Nasir Islam in the northern city of Kaduna. Nigeria is home to the largest Muslim community in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for roughly half of the country’s 150 million people, as well as to more than 200 ethnicities, most of whom generally live peacefully side by side.