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Cameroon Worried Over Spread of Ideology

FILE - The number of Nigerian refugees fleeing to Cameroon to escape Boko Haram terrorism has doubled within the past month. Shown here is a refugee camp in Minawao on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria, Feb. 23, 2015. (Moki Edwin Kindzeka/VOA)

Cameroon has assembled all its Muslim leaders in the capital, Yaounde, to teach them how to identify and denounce promoters of the Islamic State group's radical ideology. The effort comes amid reports supporters of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram have dropped their arms and are now preaching "extremism." Boko Haram earlier this year announced its adherence to the Islamic State group.

Cavaye Yegue Djibril, speaker of Cameroon's national assembly, traditional ruler and Muslim spiritual guide, said Boko Haram fighters have dropped their guns and are now preaching Islamic State ideology.

He said the Boko Haram terrorist group, though in agony after joint forces attacked its strong holds, are now spreading a demonic religion that can led to social unrest. He said he is calling on the Cameroonian people to be vigilant and is also warning whoever collaborates with Islamist State ideology that Cameroon is solidly one and indivisible.

Yaounde-based Cleric Nouri Dine said many Cameroonians, especially unemployed youths, have been converted and now secretly share the extremist group's ideology.

He said he is praying that God should help Cameroon eradicate the Boko Haram terrorist group and its ideology and establish peace, security and stability. He said God should open the eyes of people and give them wisdom to quickly detect the strategies being used by the enemies of progress, propagators of Islamic State ideology who want to destroy Cameroon.

In March this year, the Nigerian militant group swore allegiance to Islamic state, which claims a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iran and Syria. The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a video posted online, promised to endure being discriminated against but never to dispute sovereignty with those in power he described as infidels.

Chieck Nsangou Mama of the Union of African Muslim scholars, who together with Cameroon's Islamic cultural association organized the training to detect and denounce extremism, said the groups have been educating Muslims on how to identify people spreading Islamic state ideology.

"People who say that they want to implement Islamic State at all cost and by all means are very sensitive about issues that are not important and are forgetting about the fundamentals of Islam. They try to be very difficult and very rude against others. The solution is to go back to these teachings, to understand them the way the prophet understood them and the way he taught them to his companions," Mama saod.

Cameroon has a history of inter-religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence with other denominations. But Dr. Moussa Oumarou of the Islamic Cultural Association of Cameroon said people should be watchful over a psychological warfare dividing Cameroon's Islamic sects that promoters of extremism are using to further divide them.

He said Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims in Cameroon, but that there are also Shiites and there is no objective reason to exclude them because all of them are part of the bigger Islam family. He said they have educated all Muslim leaders in Cameroon to take the message to their localities so that this year's period of Ramadan fasting should begin in peace and understanding as they jointly pray against the Boko Haram plans to destabilize their faith.

Within the past five years, Boko Haram, which means western education is a sin, has been recruiting people and attacking schools, mosques and churches on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria.

Nigeria's new president, Muhammadu Buhari, while addressing the 25th assembly of heads of state and governments of the African Union in Johannesburg, said the criminal campaigns of Boko Haram bear testimony of his region under siege and promised to work with Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin to eradicate the scourge under the supervision of the African Union.