News / Africa

    Boko Haram Warns Christians to Convert or 'Not Know Peace Again'

    Worshipers arrive at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Nigeria's capital Abuja, June 24, 2012. Worshipers arrive at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Nigeria's capital Abuja, June 24, 2012.
    x
    Worshipers arrive at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Nigeria's capital Abuja, June 24, 2012.
    Worshipers arrive at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Nigeria's capital Abuja, June 24, 2012.
    Heather Murdock
    ABUJA, Nigeria - The Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram is now claiming responsibility for Sunday’s attack on a funeral that killed scores of people, including two prominent politicians. Through e-mails to journalists, the group is now demanding Christians convert to Islam and denies government claims that peace talks are underway.  

    Violence in Plateau State
     
    Many parts of Nigeria’s Plateau State are on lockdown after a weekend of violence.  Deputy Superintendent of Police Abuh Emmanuel says four local governments have 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. curfews, leaving the people only six hours a day outside their homes.
     
    He blames ethnic Fulani herdsmen, who are mostly Muslim, for raiding villages over the weekend and later attacking a funeral for the victims of the earlier raids. The victims were mostly ethnic Berom Christian farmers and the two groups have been at odds over resources for years. Fulani leaders deny orchestrating the attacks, calling the accusations “propaganda.”
     
    Boko Haram Facts

    • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
    • Began in 2002 as a non-violent Islamist splinter group
    • Launched uprising in 2009; leader was subsequently killed in police custody
    • Has killed hundreds in bombings and shootings since 2010
    • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
    • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law
    • Says it will kidnap women and children as part of its campaign
    • Has taken over parts of northeastern Nigeria
    However, as a tense calm returns to the region, the Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the funeral attack, saying Christians should convert or they “will not know peace again.”
     
    Abubakar Umar Kari, a senior lecturer at the University of Abuja, says Boko Haram’s involvement was a surprise as the group normally operates far in the north.

    “Boko Haram has a very long reach," he said. "It has shown that it is capable of carrying out devastating attacks.  It appears to have no bounds.”

    Killing in raids, funerals
     
    Death tolls for the weekend's violence range widely, but at least 58 people were killed in raids on Saturday and at least 22 killed at the subsequent funerals on Sunday, including two Plateau state politicians, Senator Gyang Dantong and Gyang Fulani, the majority leader in the state assembly.
     
    Human Rights Watch has said Boko Haram violence can intensify ethnic clashes because economic and ethnic ties also fall squarely along religious divides.  
     
    Boko Haram communicates with the public by calling journalists from blocked phone lines or unverifiable e-mails. In the latest e-mail, the group called Nigeria’s new National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki's claims to have initiated peace talks with Boko Haram a “fresh lie.”

    Secrecy
     
    Kari says Boko Haram operates in secrecy and even if the security adviser was engaged in dialogue with the group, Boko Haram would most likely publicly deny it.

    “They don’t want any kind of publicity associated with any meeting between them and the federal government," said Kari. "So I would not be surprised that even if there have been moves to talk to them - if there have been some rapprochements from the government’s side - they won’t come out too quickly to confirm it.”

    Sectarian dispute

    Nigeria is divided between a mostly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. Increasing violence in the “Middle Belt” regions have led some cities like Jos, the capital of Plateau State, to divide themselves in kind, with Muslims and Christians saying they cannot live together.
     
    Human Rights Watch says more than 4,000 people have been killed in sectarian violence over the past 11 years in Plateau State. Boko Haram began violent operations in 2009, and has since been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths including attacks on security forces, government buildings, churches, schools, newspaper offices and the local United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.  

    Abdulkareem Olayemi in Maiduguri contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: AYO from: ANGOLA
    July 17, 2012 5:59 PM
    Boko haram or what ever you call yourself you can not compell any one to join any religion neither muslim or pegan, every body has a right of choice .Stop boasting you can't face the raught of the almighty God..

    by: morrison
    July 13, 2012 9:12 AM
    The North is biting more than they can chew,i do not blame them i blame GEJ a southerner that has seen it all in the streets of port harcourt ,he is so afraid that he cant even do one simple show for all northerners to know that he is in charge and will do anything to bring sanity to the country.

    by: Lanka from: Australia
    July 13, 2012 1:44 AM
    I am shocked that my last comment was not published. However, I am not in anyway surprise, if it is VOA. Boko haram sent a text to you people containing obnoxious statements that we must all become muslims in Plateau State or we perish. And you gladly polished it and presented it to the world to read. Yet, armed with facts, I tried to explain why the frontliners(boko haram) of all the muslims in Nigeria got the guts to say that, you supress me and denied me the opportunity to to tell the world the truth. Then, then to me, the writing on the wall is plain for all to read. VOA has only confirmed to me what it is and exactly protecting, at the expense of Plateau People, and the non-muslims in general.
    In Response

    by: Sheddy
    July 24, 2012 6:19 PM
    It has become the trademark fo Western Media to side with oppressors in the developing countries. They bark and cough only when their country is hit. But unfortunately, it is not just their media. You know I used to think that everyone who went to Havard will come out a sound mind, capable of proper reasoning and analysis. I was proved wrong. Boko Haram has written in plain English why they attack Plateau State- they have preached Islam here for a long time and we have refused to convert, so they will convert us by the sword. Yet Barak Obama says Boko Haram thrives because of injustice in the north. I understand him to mean that if you reject Islam, that is injustice. I am confused because I am told that he was born a Muslim and he rejected it. Which is the greater injustice, to convert form Islam or to refuse to enter it from onset?
    In Response

    by: C.C from: Abidjan
    July 13, 2012 2:46 PM
    Of a truth, the western media are proving themselves not to be trusted. Truths are always abated by the western media. But protects only their own areas of interest with a bombshell propoganda to the whole world. I feel so disappointed in VOA and related western media.

    by: mary from: abuja
    July 12, 2012 6:16 AM
    boko haram think they are figthing for their god. foolish of them, can''t their god figth for himself?.who are u to figth for GOD that creat you.all of them are devils and satanic. GOD will punish all of them in hell.

    by: Lanka from: Australia
    July 11, 2012 2:56 PM
    While the media apparently and dedicately favour propaganda and other mean values, hence reportage does not actually reveal the truth, the sponsors, collaborators, defenders, sympathizers as well as the indifferent about the obnoxious actions and inaction of boko haram, al-qaeda, al-shabaab, taliban, etc. that gloat over inhumanity, are known. On what principle do all these myriads of muslim groups and subgroups stand? What exactly do they want? These all stand on the teachings of the koran and want sharia law imposed on all humanity. That known and said, all muslims stand on the same and want to achieve exactly one goal. Otherwise, dealing with all these bloodthirsty sects(they should not be called radical, extremist or such pseudonyms) is easy. Plateau State knows that its enemies will never give up and therefore it must surely device its mechanism of self defense in the face of toothless government at all levels. After all, the State has suffered in all manners, using federal government machineries, thus far under the muslims in Nigeria and beyond. May I assure boko haram, the muslim frontliners, once again, that their days are counted!

    by: Lanka from: Australia
    July 11, 2012 1:43 AM
    Boko haram does not have the peace of Plateau people. Instead, the Plateau people own their peace and can break it. I want to assure the muslims entirely and boko haram, the frontliners of the muslims sharpening the divide between the non-muslims and muslims globally, that their days are numbered. It is called Plateau because it is hard to kick against the unbroken rock. We have lost many. We may still loss a few. But the blood of the child in the worm has been heard!

    by: ifeanyi from: brazil
    July 10, 2012 10:46 PM
    to kill all involve,from A to Z ..MR PRESDENT DONT KNOW WHATS TO DO THEM SO THAT NIGERIAS WILL BE MOVING ON NOT BACK.
    GOD BLESS NIGERIA .

    by: Emmanuel from: Abuja
    July 10, 2012 5:11 PM
    Muslims are the anti christ the bible is talking about. They would perish in the lake of fire whether they know it or not.They worship the saudi moon god called allah claiming they are worshipping God.Please if you are a muslim reading this you should accept JESUS,and embrace the true peace because He is the prince of peace.The so called allah is the moon goddess of destruction, and it is satan in disguise claiming that islam is the religion of peace,it is a religion of destruction.Xtians should rise up and wipe this evil out of this country because darkness and light has nothing in common.Muslims are already doomed
    In Response

    by: Olu from: London
    August 08, 2012 8:19 AM
    Emmanuel, you just sound the like the other end of the stick (boko haram on one end)!

    and to Boko Haram: your existence is a sin!

    by: kalu from: portharcourt
    July 10, 2012 5:08 PM
    l can not believe that the government, those in power, the politicians dose not know those that are behind this act of terrorist. they know themselves. but one day the truth shall prevail. No act of wickedness shall go unpunished. May GOD'S name be praised.
    In Response

    by: Juliet from: Italy
    July 13, 2012 5:03 AM
    May Almighty let everyone in Nigeria know the truth. I have tried to communicate to people about this thing of religion, but it seems i have been taking to myself. I chose to reply to you because i know that the Igbo are non Muslims and they are the people to face death because they did not and will not believe that the people who brought religion to them, are not religious not even the Nigeria Christianity is real thus you bow to idols. So,stop religion. Now, before the invasion of the white men in Nigeria, what was our fate was there an image of a foreign god visible in our land? Let me tell all of you the Qu'an , is the copy of the catholic bible and it is ritual, blood sacrifice. The bibles are the same the problem is that you are not reading the part which you are suppose to read. I am living in Italy the capital is Rome, this people are not religious they don't even know a verse in the bible the priest you have in catholic churches, in Nigeria are fake; pope, does not know them you don't know the god you are serving this's the secret. Arabs were the leaders of slave trade, 3,000 yrs ago and that's their aim if you don't fight back,you let them win, slave trade we be back in full swing. This is a plan. Moreover, Jesus is not God but a teacher according to them; what you see in the picture, is not Jesus but Paul. Jesus is not a white man. Help our people read the bible and not to preach for business. They should concentrate on the Old testament not the new testament which is fake mostly written by Paul who was neither one of the so called Jesus disciple nor his apostle. Peace you all over the world.

    by: stephen from: benin
    July 10, 2012 2:55 PM
    oh we Christian the message is now clear, the messenger have spoken.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora