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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs