March 8, 2010
Christian Science Monitor

Nigeria Violence: Muslim-Christian Clashes Kill Hundreds

by Scott Baldauf

The central city of Jos is on high alert after Sunday's Nigeria violence in which a late-night attack by herdsmen killed up to 500 people from nearby farming villages. The attack has been seen as a reprisal for attacks in January, in which about 300 herdsmen were killed by youth from the farming community.

The town of Jos is all too often a focal point for competition over the use of arable land in central and northern Nigeria, where climate change has dried up pasture lands and forced animal herders closer and closer into farming communities, where their herds can destroy crops.

Jos is also right on the de facto fault line separating the Nigeria's mainly Muslim north from its mainly Christian south. The farming community in Jos are primarily Christians of the Berom ethnic group, while the herders are ethnic Fulanis who practice Islam. . . .


Anne Penketh, "Nigerian Christians Accused of 'Genocide'," Independent, May 7, 2004

[For Mr Lipdo, the villagers are the face of a "new Darfur" - victims of a "violent Muslim expansion". He is among those who see this as part of a world-wide Islamic advance. But this is only his truth. Jos is the capital of Nigeria's fertile "middle belt", a highland plateau where missionaries converted animist farmers to Christianity. Tin deposits were later found in the area and the colonial government brought Hausa Muslim labourers from further north. Jos and its satellite villages have been mixed and metropolitan ever since. . . .

Politics here have been poisoned by the distinction between the longer-standing Christians, or "indigenes", and Muslim "settlers". The former are favoured in land rights, the latter denied the opportunity to stand in elections. This has caused resentment, which has erupted in 2001, 2004 and 2008, leaving thousands dead, many more displaced and the city polarised.--Daniel Howden, "'They herded us into one place and started chopping with machetes...'," Independent, March 13, 2010]

[Africa's most populous country and leading oil producer is beset by multiple crises, from attacks by armed militants in the Niger Delta to sectarian massacres in its central region and a protracted struggle for the presidency in the capital, Abuja.--Daniel Howden, "Nigeria is falling apart, says Nobel prize-winning author," Independent, March 16, 2010]

[The fighting falls broadly along ethnic lines, with the mostly Christian Berom group against the largely Muslim Hausa and Fulani groups.

The Hausa and Fulani are officially deemed settlers in Plateau State, even though some have lived here for generations, and say that as a result they are excluded from political office. . . .

Political office is prized throughout Nigeria - holders of such jobs can grant lucrative public contracts to their allies and access oil revenues in what is sub-Saharan Africa's biggest energy producer.--Shyamantha Asokan, "Quietly, the Christian-Muslim killing continues in Nigeria," Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2010]

[Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country had a Muslim president.--Farouk Chothia, "Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists?," BBC African Service, August 26, 2011]

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