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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid