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Africa’s War of Religion Heats Up

Attacks apparently directed against Christians by radical groups claiming the mantle of Islam in Kenya and Nigeria yesterday illustrated the increasing polarization along Africa’s Christian-Muslim divide.

In Nigeria, radicals attacked a university campus in Kano, a predominantly and historically Islamic city in northern Nigeria with a significant Christian minority. Approximately 15 people attending a Christian prayer service were bombed or shot, reports the BBC.

On the other side of Africa, a hand grenade was thrown into a church in Nairobi, Kenya, killing one person and wounding 19. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, but there has been a series of attacks on Christian targets in Kenya after Kenyan troops have participated in peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.

The MSM likes to play this down, but Christian-Muslim conflict is an important driver of events in Africa today. While there are thoughtful and moderate people on both sides of the divide who believe that their respective religions should promote tolerance and peace, more militant ideas seem to have gained ground. In particular, traditional African forms of moderate Islam, often with sufi roots, are being challenged by Saudi funded Wahabist movements and preachers.

The explosive growth of Christianity across Africa in the last half century has challenged and rattled Muslims in parts of the continent, and tensions between the groups are further exacerbated when conflicts over resources and between tribal groups get mixed in with religious competition. Add weak states, poorly policed frontiers, rapid population growth and large pools of underemployed young men to the mix, and it seems clear that these two attacks will not be the last.

More blood will flow in Africa, and quite possibly a lot more, before the two faiths settle into a peaceful coexistence.

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  • Hubbub

    ‘More blood will flow in Africa, and quite possibly a lot more, before the two faiths settle into a peaceful coexistence.’

    Even amid the chaos, must we be optimistic? ‘…before the two faiths settle into a peaceful coexistence’ could just as easily be ‘…until one of the faiths is completely subjugated or eliminated.’ And, more likely, to be ever so more realistic given the nature of religions in areas outside the West.

  • Anthony

    Sensibilities and motivations are integral WRM – Christian-Muslim conflict is important driver (pretext perhaps). However, tensions over resources, control, power, etc. become masked by religious context as you well intimated.

  • Anthony

    Most importantly WRM, Africa is a continent of 54 distinct states… and therefore a most complicated place for the passions of religion to be exploited.

  • Peaceful coexistence? I doubt it, but it is possible if Wahhabi fanaticism wanes and mystical Sufism makes a comeback. Wars of extinction are possible too.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I notice both of the attacks you cite are of Islamic attacks on Christians, and in fact if you look at religious attacks around the world well over 90% of them are of Moslems attacking either other Moslems or some other religion (Jews, Hindi, Bahia’s, Christians, Buddhists). By calling this Polarization you indicate that there are two sides to this issue, and that Christians are as responsible for the violence at Moslems, and that is just not true. The problem isn’t with the Christians, the problem is with the barbaric and backward Islamic Culture that believes it is justified in murdering innocent men, women, and children.

  • John Burke

    Christian-Muslim conflict seems always to boil down to Muslims ruthlessly killing Christians even as they worship. Casting this endless jihad against infidels as a two-sided conflict turns a blind eye to the source of the violence.

    While we’re in this subject, in the past decade, I have read hundreds if articles wherein authors point out that this or that set of Muslims customarily have pursued a peaceful Sufi brand of Islam. I’ve read it about Black Africans, North Africans, Afghans, Pakistanis and Indonesians, among others. Always, if is the influence of Saudi Wahhabists. Maybe so, but the locals across the Ummah seem to be quick studies in picking it up.

  • teapartydoc

    A missionary friend of mine who worked in the fringe areas populated by both Christians and Muslims was at an airport back in the seventies and saw someone obviously Muslim board the plane with a child. His companion explained to him that they were going to Mecca, making the Haj, and that the child would not be returning from Saudi Arabia, but was going along to pay for the flight. That religion has no respect for the dignity of Man. They may as well be abortionists.

  • Robert Hagedorn

    Google First Scandal.

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