Sectarian Violence in Nigeria is Spinning out of Control

Nigeria has suffered from sectarian, ethnic, and tribal violence for quite some time. 
As in many African countries, there are political, economic, and social issues at work, a shortage of resources, unfair distribution of wealth, tensions between settled and nomadic groups, etc.  Often whatever violence is carried out is defended as being “retaliation” or “revenge” for some previous act carried out by the other group.  Extremists (like Boko Haram) take advantage of the situation by attempting to provide phony religious or nationalistic justifications for why a particular group must carry out such acts of violence in “self defense”.  Attempting to oversimplify what is happening, or to depict the violence in Nigeria as being a religious war, does a disservice to all of the people.

Most often, attacks by Muslims on Christians get the most press here in the U.S., but the reality is that the violence is carried out by members of all groups.  Since many people in the U.S. are unaware that this is not as simple as Muslims being a “problem” wherever they live, here are a very few examples of such acts of violence carried out by Christians against Muslims:

In 2011, Christians attacked Muslims praying at a mosque on Eid in Jos The mosque had been burned in previous religious violence.  In 2011, Christian youths attacked a car full of Muslims returning from a wedding in central Nigeria, killing seven people inside the vehicle and sparking retaliatory violence that left one other person dead.  In 2006 Nigerian Christians defended aseries of attacks on Muslims in Onitsha that left two mosques destroyed and at least 42 dead.  Nigeria has seen at least 20,000 deaths from political, ethnic and religious violence.

Nigeria is home to more than 200 distinct ethnic groups drawn together in a volatile mix by European colonial mapmakers in the 19th century.  …  Though the city is considered part of the homeland of the heavily Catholic Ibo ethnic group, thousands of northern Muslims, mostly members of the Hausa ethnic group, have moved here in search of work.


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