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.

Religiously-motivated violence gets worse in Nigeria

It’s only getting worse.

Witnesses say people are fleeing their homes in central Nigeria over fears of renewed religious violence between Christians and Muslims.

Witnesses say there has been at least one death in the city of Jos and people began fleeing on Saturday.

A military spokesman confirmed there was unrest in the city, but gave no details.

It isn’t going to be easy for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to deal with all the violence it currently faces. Some of it comes from corruption that pervades its entire government. Some of it comes from poverty. But much of it comes from religion; religion is the cause of all the killings between Christians and Muslims going on right now. To cause a significant change in the dynamics of the region, the fact of religion would need to be removed. It cannot simply be replaced with anything – only a simpleton would think that – but without religion, the basis of any violence would change. (It would also change if one religion was all that dominated, but then the entire country might come in conflict with entire other nations.) In places like Northern Ireland, an elimination of the Catholic/Protestant divide throughout the later half of the 20th century probably wouldn’t have completely eliminated all violence there, but it would have subtracted from the equation one significant piece of unnecessary (and untrue) ideology.

For Nigeria, the Christian/Muslim divide is acting as a reason to kill over a lack of fertile lands. Eliminate that divide and the lack of good growing land still exists, but one significant reason for all the murders will be gone. I suspect that for this country corrupt officials might step in to fill the void of controversy and unrest, but they would actually be a step forward in an effort of social and political reform for the better.

They certainly couldn’t be any worse than the two violent religions that have such a strong hold in Nigeria right now.

More religious killing in Nigeria

If religion could fuel our vehicles and homes, we’d never have an energy crisis.

Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in central Nigeria left 326 people dead last week, a state police commissioner said Monday, pledging to bring those responsible for the killings to justice.

There are conflicting accounts about what unleashed the recent bloodshed. According to a state police commissioner, skirmishes began after Muslim youths set a Christian church ablaze, but Muslim leaders denied that. Muslims say it began with an argument over the rebuilding of a Muslim home in a predominantly Christian neighborhood that had been destroyed in November 2008.

There is disagreement on the minutiae of the violence, but there is clear agreement that religion is the root of it all.