News / Africa

Nigeria Struggles With Rise of Radical Islam

Witnesses at the house in Kano, Nigeria,  security forces surrounded the house, forcing their way inside, killing a man and a pregnant woman while searching for members of a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, January 24, 2012.
Witnesses at the house in Kano, Nigeria, security forces surrounded the house, forcing their way inside, killing a man and a pregnant woman while searching for members of a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, January 24, 2012.

A series of bomb attacks by Nigeria's radical Islamist sect Boko Haram is challenging President Goodluck Jonathan's government.  The pace of the bombings has picked up in recent weeks, with attacks on police stations in the northern city of Kano and a Christmas Day suicide bombing at a Catholic church near the capital, Abuja. 

In the entry way of St. Theresa's church in Madalla, one can see worshippers coming in for Sunday mass just as they did on Christmas Day.  But outside in the churchyard a scene of destruction remains - twisted metal, chunks of concrete, burned out trees and a huge hole in the road where a vehicle was stopped and detonated by the suicide bomber who killed so many people.  

St. Theresa's pastor, Father Isaac Acha, calls on worshippers to pray for the bomber as well as his victims.

"Pray [to] God for forgiveness in our hearts, especially on those who have inflicted injury, pain into our lives," he said.

Outside the church, Father Acha praises the Muslims of Madalla for their outpouring of sympathy and support during the church's time of grief.  He says Muslims and Christians here have always considered themselves one community.

"That relationship between Christians and Muslims, especially in the middle belt of Nigeria, you see in a family of five - three are Muslims, two are Christians.  In a family of six, four are Christians, two Muslims.  And this is how it has been, and we eat and drink together," he explained.

Father Acha blames successive governments for ignoring the growth of Islamic radicalism in Nigeria during the past 10 years.

"Boko Haram came shortly after the political regime of some governments, feeling Nigeria should be an Islamic state introducing Sharia law in their states. Gradually, before we know it, there was this group trained, and security men were equally aware of them.  And nobody took them serious," Acha recalled. "They came as a political organ and now it has turned to become a religious problem."

Thirty kilometers away, at Abuja's main mosque, the message is one of  tolerance.  Islamic cleric Huseyn Zakaria Mohamed agrees with his Catholic counterpart that the rise of sectarian tensions has been tolerated, and in some cases encouraged, by those in power.

"Left to the Muslims or the Christians without interferences - without actually people sponsoring them to fight and kill each other and maim each and destroy their properties - they are brothers and sisters and keepers to one another," Mohamed said.

He says most Nigerian Muslims reject Boko Haram's brand of radical Islam.

“We don't preach 'fight the Christians' in the mosque. We don't do that. A Christian has rights in an Islamic state. In Nigeria," Mohamed stated. "Christians must have their right to worship.”

At St. Theresa's, parishioners stand on the church steps after Sunday mass surveying the wreckage left by the Christmas Day blast.  They say they wonder what the suicide bomber was thinking.  If his goal was to strike a blow against Christianity, they say he failed.  The damage to the church was only superficial, and of the 44 people killed, 26 were church members.  The other 18 were passersby and neighbors - some of them Muslims.  

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid