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.
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.”

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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
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

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

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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs