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.
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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.

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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.
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