Religious Violence in Nigeria
Many in Nigeria see themselves as belonging to an
ethnic/religious groups rather than as a citizen of Nigeria itself. The three
areas most Nigerians align themselves to are the Yoruba (westerners), Igbo
(easterners) and Hausa (northerners). These groups are split along religious
grounds, and over the past few years, there has been much violence between some
of these groups resulting in widespread killings whilst the Nigerian government
appears to turn a blind eye, being either unable or unwilling to intervene to
protect all of its citizens regardless of their background.
The killings reflect attempts by the Christian and Muslim groups
to secure land and resources in Nigeria's 'Middle Belt'. In a recent attack in
the Dogo Nahawa village outside the city of Jos, the epicentre for much of this
violence, men, armed with machetes slaughtered indiscriminately, including
women, children and even a four day old baby. This recent massacre was carried
out by Muslims, and appears to be in retaliation for an attack on Muslims in
January 2010 which left 300 dead with the victims bodies thrown into sewer pits
and communal wells.
More recently, in March 2011, a family of four were killed in
a dawn raid by Muslim gunman in Dabwak, another town outside Jos, following
further episodes of religions violence including bombing incidents around
It is estimated that well over two thousand Nigerians have
been killed in this religious violence since 2001, and despite recent deployment
of troops after international condemnation, the very nature of the attacks makes
managing the situation near impossible without the factions themselves agreeing
to pursue alternative routes to resolve the land issue.
Many of the attacks are being carried out by Boko Haram, a
fundamentalist Islamic group based in the north-east of Nigeria with suspected
links to with Al Qaeda, who are committed to the establishment of strict Sharia
law throughout Nigeria, regardless of the fact that 50% of the population is
Muslim, 40% Christian and with 10% holding indigenous beliefs.
These videos explore some of the recent religious violence in
Nigeria whilst the chart below details some recent incidents.