Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nigeria: fundamental issues: Boko Haram's gruesome rise

Guardian (UK)
27 January 2012

has prised open crevices where ethnic, religious and socioeconomic fault lines intersect


A bombing campaign is reductionist by design. Complex societies with long and painful histories end up being reduced to simple dichotomies : north v south, Muslim v Christian, poor v rich. Or in Boko Haram's case, the righteous v the apostate. There is something particularly chilling in the interview which we publish today with a representative of the Islamic militant group, whose campaign of violent jihad has claimed hundreds of lives already this year. It is when he claims that Nigeria's 70 million Christians would be "protected" under the group's envisioned Islamic state but goes on to deliver the following threat: "There are no exceptions. Even if you are a Muslim and you do not abide by sharia, we will kill you. Even if you are my own father, we will kill you."

Three fault lines crisscross Nigeria's troubled land: ethnic, religious and socioeconomic. Boko Haram's gruesome rise to prominence – it has graduated from drive-by attacks on beer parlours to bombing the United Nations headquarters in Abuja – has prised open crevices where all three intersect.


Boko Haram's campaign is a clear and growing national threat. To prevent it swelling further and channelling the separate grievances which have fuelled its rise, the president will have to address a situation which Nigeria's security forces previously dismissed as an internal northern squabble. That will mean redistributing state resources. Years of corruption have meant that 70% of the population live in extreme poverty despite an oil industry that produces 2m barrels per day. It will mean addressing the religious divide and providing protection for all. Above all, Nigeria should not confuse counter-terrorism with counter-insurgency. The only community that will see Boko Haram off is the one from which it came.

No comments:

Post a Comment