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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid