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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Nigeria’s Islamic jihadists, Boko Haram, have been busy recently. Just last week they killed more than 170 Christians in the northern city of Kano. Last Christmas Day, as another example, they attacked and killed at least 37 Christians just outside Nigeria’s capital.
In simple terms, most Christians are in the south of Nigeria, whereas Muslims are the majority in the north. This can be seen, then, as being a north-versus-south conflict, as well as a Christian-versus-Muslim one; even if it has been Muslims who have been the prime aggressors recently.

Boko Haram’s campaign is mainly religious in nature. The name itself, ‘Boko Haram’, means non-Islamic education is sacrilege.

It is Boko Haram’s intent to extend sharia law across the whole of Nigeria. Nigeria is roughly equally split between Christians and Muslims. This effectively means, then, that Boko Haram want to impose sharia law on around eighty million Nigerian Christians.

As usually happens in these cases, many commentators have said that Boko Haram ‘is not representative’ of Nigerian Muslims. They often say the same thing about al-Qaeda too, despite the many large protests in support of al-Qaeda, from Pakistan to Gaza, there have been. (Indeed, certain commentators say the same about our own Muslim Association of Britain (MAB); of the Muslim Brotherhood.)

Once left-leaning commentators realise that the culprits, in disputes or in conflicts, are adhering to Islamic doctrine, then it often soon follows that you will get the ‘is not representative of Muslims’ phrase being bandied about.

I don’t suppose, however, that anyone has said that Boko Haram represents every single Nigerian Muslim; or that al-Qaeda represents every Muslim on the planet. Indeed, in the Nigerian case, there can be economic explanations or rationalisations of Boko Haram’s extreme actions and thought processes. But none of this points to the possibility that Islam, the theological and doctrines themselves, are ‘mere epiphenomena of the economic reality underneath’, as many Marxists would have it.

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