Religion-based violence continues in Nigeria

The religious-based violence has only been intensifying in Nigeria.

Funerals took place for victims of the three-hour orgy of violence on Sunday in three Christian villages close to the northern city of Jos, blamed on members of the mainly Muslim Fulani ethnic group.

While troops were deployed to the villages to prevent new attacks, security forces detained 95 suspects but faced bitter criticism over how the killers were able to go on the rampage at a time when a curfew was meant to be in force.

Media reported that Muslim residents of the villages in Plateau state had been warned by phone text message, two days prior to the attack, so they could make good their escape before the exit points were sealed off.

Survivors said the attackers were able to separate the Fulanis from members of the rival Berom group by chanting ‘nagge’, the Fulani word for cattle. Those who failed to respond in the same language were hacked to death.

Don’t be fooled by the use of a language barrier. That only acts as a tool for what is yet another case of religiously-based violence. Remove religion from this situation and these acts of violence have no real label, hardly a root.

“Nigeria’s political and religious leaders should work together to address the underlying causes and to achieve a permanent solution to the crisis in Jos.” [said a Vatican spokesman]

There is no permanent solution to violence. There are only best solutions. In this case, it is necessary that religious divides be destroyed – and the only way that will happen is either if one group absolutely dominates the landscape or if both groups dissipate. There is nothing like the organizing power of religion and bizarre beliefs (i.e., no depictions of a misogynistic asshole or, say, belief in Jew zombies – and inconsistent beliefs, at that) to get a whole pot of hate and violence stirring.

However the archbishop of the capital Abuja, John Onaiyekan, told Vatican Radio that the violence was rooted not in religion but in social, economic and tribal differences.

“It is a classic conflict between pastoralists and farmers, except that all the Fulani are Muslims and all the Berom are Christians,” he said.

Fulani are mainly nomadic cattle rearers while Beroms are traditionally farmers.

That must be why there are so many battles in the western U.S. where cattle herders and farmers cross paths. Wait. Wait. That’s right. There’s a homogeneity to the religion of America. And when there were ‘battles’, they were highly localized and not based upon religion.

This whole herders v farmers argument is hand-waving bullshit. No one is denying that there are almost always a number of factors that lead to violence, but that is a far cry from being able to discount religion’s culpability, especially in this situation. Nigeria has a long history of violence based upon unnecessary ethnic divisions that were primed and exacerbated by religion. It has always been religion that has intensified Nigerian history, not merely fence-cutting and grazing in the wrong place. In fact, one of the major obstacles to better governance in Nigeria is the massive number of political parties as organized by religious affiliation. (And this is probably still better than what we can expect from Iraq in coming years.)

And what the archbishop above is omitting is that Nigeria is still very much an agrarian economy. Nearly 2/5 of the population lives directly off the land. Doesn’t it seem just a little suspicious that it is where Christians and Muslims collide that the violence is occurring?

25 Responses

  1. What you are left with – what you are always left with – is some sort of evidence that if Nigerians were suddenly ‘less religious’ by some means they would be less violence. And unfortunately for you, no such evidence exists.

  2. That’s an oversimplification – and an inaccurate one. Homogeneous religion doesn’t tend to be a local problem insofar as violence is concerned. Your prediction has no relation to anything I’ve ever said, including here.

  3. Wrong. The Hutus and the Tutsis differed little religiously, and the violence that occurred there makes Nigeria look like a rough game of tag.

    The Stalinists killed 10 million Socialist Ukrainians, not for religious reasons but for the sake of power.

    The one historical, unavoidable, most certain truth of all Michael is that humans are sinners, corruptible and capable of violence for the any number of reasons. We happen to be blessed to live in a place and time where a different sort of morality predominates, but that this will continue isn’t a given.

  4. This makes no sense. Because there is violence where homogeneous religion exists, religion does tend to be a local problem insofar as violence is concerned? Is this like how Coca-Cola doesn’t tend to be a problem insofar as violence is concerned but because Coca-Cola exists in virtually every place of violence, it really is a problem? Again, your point makes no sense.

  5. As I just pointed out, with a couple of examples, that isn’t true. There can be violence anywhere – and in the US, which is much more religiously diverse than much of the world, there is actually less violence.

  6. You pointed out that there is violence with religious homogeneity. Great. That has no relation to anything I’ve said.

  7. You claimed that the solution to violence was either the domination of one religious group or the dissapation of both religious groups; I have pointed out that even when that is the case, violence can still exist, and thus it is wrong to suggest that it would be the elimination of a religious belief that would solve the problems of the Nigerians.

  8. He didn’t say that it would solve the problems. He specifically said there is no permanent solution. Instead, there are ‘best-case solutions’, and he outlined his.

  9. He didn’t say that it would solve the problems. He specifically said there is no permanent solution. Instead, there are ‘best-case solutions’, and he outlined his.

    And I am just pointing out that this isn’t neccesarily so, based on history.

  10. That violence can exist without religious influences doesn’t discredit the idea that religion can influence violence.

  11. Christ. I said the best case solution to religion-based violence is homogeneity, whether it be the domination of one religion or the lack of religion all together. That doesn’t mean there won’t be violence. It means the violence will have a different basis – as you specifically pointed out, defeating your own point.

  12. Sure. Many beliefs can influence violence. Religion can diminish violence as well.

    Depends I on what those beliefs hold to be true, and whether those who claim to believe certain things actually act in accordance with those beliefs.

    For example, Nigerian Christians seeking revenge are acting contrary to the command of Christ to forgive one’s enemies, to turn the other cheek. to love one’s neighbor. Obviously if they held true to that aspect of their religious belief, at least a portion of of the violence would be quelled.

  13. Or maybe they believe they are of the chosen people and that all other beliefs are an affront to their god.

  14. Perhaps, but that if in the process of believing that they ignore what their religion teaches, then they are acting contrary to Christianity, not because of it.

  15. jack: What about the bit about destroying a whole town if there is a single unbeliever in it?

  16. Jesus never commanded His followers to do that.

  17. “Jesus never commanded His followers to do that.”

    God does, however.

  18. Ooo, the fun of the nonsense of the Holy Trinity.

  19. “Jesus never commanded His followers to do that.”

    God does, however.

    Well, Christians believe Jesus to be God, and they are obligated to follow His commands for His followers. Nowhere does He command them to destroy a town with a single unbeliever in it. In fact, I don’t think such a command can be found even in the Old Testament.

  20. Jesus, the character of the New Testament never ordered the death of unbelievers that I’m aware of. However, if you equate God with Jesus, then he most certainly has ordered such things in the OT:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=deuteronomy%2013&version=NIV

  21. I can’t believe we are discussing a Bronze-Age book written by goat herders when people are being murdered. For goodness sake, put religion and Faith in a museum and be done with it. The Fulani Muslims are using the Berom Christians as a scapegoat for the problems.

    What they need is education and the tools to improve their social and economic situation. That is not achieved by quibbling over the claims of nomadic tent dwellers from a time when the wheelbarrow was the leading edge technology of the day.

  22. Jesus, the character of the New Testament never ordered the death of unbelievers that I’m aware of. However, if you equate God with Jesus, then he most certainly has ordered such things in the OT:

    Yes, God did order the Israelites to punish certain people in Israel, not as revenge, but as a judgement on their evil actions. I don’t thin the Nigerians (nor any Christian group) can use that as a basis for revenge today.

  23. What they need is education and the tools to improve their social and economic situation. That is not achieved by quibbling over the claims of nomadic tent dwellers from a time when the wheelbarrow was the leading edge technology of the day.

    Well, at least one atheist observer concludes that what Africans need is God.

  24. Yes, might I agree with JackHudson and Matthew Parris , a temporary solution could be to introduce a moderate from of Christianity to replace the extreme religious practises in Africa, of course that would mean converting all the 90% Muslim Fulani to Lutheran Christianity, good luck with that.

    Introducing Christianity to Africa has its own problems, for example in Nigeria Christian pastors are regularly denouncing children as witches:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/18/african-children-denounce_n_324943.html

    All that Christianity has achieved is replacing one set of traditional African superstitions with a set of western superstitions from the medieval Dark Ages.

    A typical problem:
    If an elder sister dies of malaria the younger sister will be accused of witchcraft.

    We could teach the people there is no such thing as witches and replace that superstition with a less harmful superstition, such as Christianity , or we could support people like the Atheist Bill Gates who is spending most of his vast fortune on humanitarian projects, one if which is to eliminate Malaria as a killer in Africa.

    I reinforce my previous post : Education to remove superstitious nonsense in an effort to to eradicate practises like:

    i) Witch hunts
    ii) Female circumcision
    iii) Nomadic Muslim Fulani murdering Christian Berom farmers.

    Tools:
    i) To help the Muslim nomads keep their livestock healthy.
    ii) To help the Christian Farmers produce greater crop yields.
    iii) To prevent diseases like malaria being a killer in Africa.

    There is no reason why Africa can not be a successful world economy, only Faith in God can stop it.

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