The religious fighting of Nigeria

As I have pointed out a number of times here, severe violence in Nigeria has long been based in or exacerbated by religion. In many cases we see Islamic sects bombing Christian sects, causing eye-for-an-eye retaliation. The motivation is sheer religious fervor, belief that one’s faith is more important than others’ lives. In other cases we see a division of goods and farmland which leads to disagreements. These disagreements often escalate into violence. Of course, no one would see such systematic violence were it not for religious labels. It would certainly still be there – Nigeria has distinct ethnic groups and that can and does cause problems – but much of the bloodshed would disappear. For, why would Nigerians fight other, for all intents and purposes, random Nigerians? (Looking at the situation this way, this arbitrary nature of division resembles the one between different Christian sects of Northern Ireland in relatively recent years.) No rational, fair-minded person can look at what is happening in this West African nation and deny that religion is a significant problem, often even at the base of the problems. We may see things come to a head in coming years:

Northern Nigerian Christians said on Tuesday they feared that a spate of Christmas Day bombings by Islamist militants that killed over two dozen people could lead to a religious war in Africa’s most populous country.

The warning was made in a statement by the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella organization comprising various denominations including Catholics, Protestant and Pentecostal churches.

Some political-religious leaders are denying as much will happen, even going so far as to lie about the nature of the conflict. But the facts are the facts. People are fighting and religion is making things worse. There are surely solutions, but I’m not going to pretend I know what they all are. Nigeria has democracy, the usual curing agent for much violence. It could be strengthened; rooting out corruption and greed would be a start – these things inevitably lead to someone’s oppression and that leads to as much violence as religious fervor does. But this is a small piece to the problem here and, again, I’m not going to pretend like I know all the answers. Nigeria is a complicated nation which is going to have to wait many, many years before it sees peace between its two violent religions.

10 Responses

  1. This is what happens when you introduce a religion to a developing nation. Christian missionaries seem to think that they’ll almost instantaneously become peaceful and democratic, as if the first couple thousand years of bloody Christian history never happened. What ends up happening is that the religion just becomes another pointless source of in-group/out-group division, providing the illusion of a threat, which creates a perfect excuse to start killing people.

  2. If you don’t know anything about Northern Ireland, you shouldn’t talk about it. The issue there is not a divide between Catholic and Protestant. It’s between Nationalist (who happen to mostly be Catholic – but some of whom’s leaders have not been) and Loyalist (who happen to mostly be Protestants). Religions are often convenient labels in the conflict – but they’re no more the cause of it than the tendency for the two communities to drink different beers.

  3. It must have been coincidence then that Catholics were Nationalists and Protestants were Loyalists. Just coincidence.

    If you can’t handle a simple comparison, you probably aren’t fit to participate here.

  4. I can handle a comparison – my issue is that you don’t actually understand the issues involved in the North. You know Wolfe Tone, the founder of the nationalist movement was Protestant? As were Parnell, Emmett, and plenty of the other leaders of the Nationalist movement. And the Catholic Church refused the sacraments to those fighting in the war of independence – hardly the actions of a group encouraging violence.

    Just pointing to the fact that the two sides tend to be from different religious groups doesn’t say anything about the cause of the violence. Looking at the actual issues involved does – and you’ll quickly find political and ethnic differences bear far, far more importance than religion.

  5. That there were leaders from different religions does not magically address my point that people were divided by religion. That was still the label used, even if there was some border crossing, so to speak.

    That the Catholic Church’s modern aversion to violence does not magically address my point that people were divided by religion. That was still the label used, even if the political bodies were formally against violence.

    That there are other factors in violence does not magically address my point that people were divided by religion. That was still the label used, even if there were other aspects involved.

  6. So, I have a question. What’s your actual knowledge of the North? Ever read a Sinn Féin press release from the troubles? Understand anything about the cross community efforts to prevent it, or about Republicanism’s commitment to one Ireland of Protestant and Catholic? Read in depth about the history of the Northern Conflict in particular, or the Irish conflict in general? Know anything about the plantations? Even know about the meaning of the flag used as an emblem by the group you’d label as Catholics?

    *Or* are you using the deaths of several thousand men and women simply as a talking point, without actually bothering to understand the issues that caused the violence? Your Northern Irish comparison certainly smacks of that, but perhaps you’re making some other subtle point, that I simply fail to see.

  7. Was it the North that came up with the Argument from Authority? If so, I have knowledge of that, though I tend to avoid using such knowledge first hand.

  8. Cian is right on this one, the situation in the North is not a good example of a religious divide. The situation arose primarily from a land-grab, where (mostly) Scottish people were given land in order to build a strong loyal base in an area hostile to British rule, followed by centuries of oppression of the (original) natives by the British through those loyal planters. So it was very much an ethnic/political conflict.That the two groups had different religious affiliations was useful for the purpose of defining the divide, but was not the real source of conflict.

    On a side note: keep it civil, you pair of headcases.

  9. Cian’s argument is that there was no religious divide, religion had nothing to do with it, and he has read a press release. Don’t be fooled by his silliness.

    That the two groups had different religious affiliations was useful for the purpose of defining the divide, but was not the real source of conflict.

    This is exactly in line with what I have been saying this entire time, but resembles zero of what Cian has cried.

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