Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Religion 'Not Driving Violence' In Nigeria

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 8:11am by Billy Hallowell

The radical Islamist group known as Boko Haram has killed more than 390 people in Nigeria this year, alone. The Associated Press reports that the group has slaughtered Christians, Muslims and foreigners.

Yet, just days after an Easter-day attack during which more than 40 Christian church-goers were killed, an Obama administration official made the allegation that “religion is not driving extreme violence” in Nigeria.

“I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence either in Jos or northern Nigeria,” proclaimed Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson on Monday. “While some seek to inflame Muslim-Christian tensions, Nigeria’s ethnic and religious diversity, like our own in this country, is a source of strength, not weakness and there are many examples across Nigeria of communities working across religious lines to protect one another.”

Carson was speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. at a forum on U.S. policy toward Nigeria. CNS News has more about his address:

    As previously reported, Boko Haram, whose name translated into “Western education is forbidden,” has links to al-Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and has repeatedly vowed to cleanse northern Nigeria of minority Christians, and is responsible for more than 1,000 deaths since mid-2009.

    Carson spoke at length about the terrorist group, saying Boko Haram “capitalizes on popular frustrations with the nation’s leaders,” and “seeks to humiliate and undermine the government and to exploit religious differences in order to create chaos and to make Nigeria ungovernable.” [...]

    “Boko Haram’s attacks on churches and mosques are particularly disturbing because they are intended to inflame religious tensions and upset the nation’s social cohesion, although Boko Haram is reviled throughout Nigeria and offers no practical solutions to the country’s problems,” Carson said.

The Obama administration official maintains that the terrorist group is not a “monolithic, homogeneous organization.” It is a large body with a primary focus of discrediting the Nigerian government, he explains. Still, considering the past violence being used in the region, it’s hard to digest the notion that religion — particularly when considering the Christian individuals who are targeted — isn’t driving the horrific issues present in the nation.

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