John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigeria: Religious Violence in Jos

by John Campbell Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A signboard welcoming visitors is seen at the main entrance of Nigeria's central city of Jos. (Joseph Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

On August 28 in Jos there was a new outbreak of violence, ostensibly between Muslims and Christians. The Nigerian press reports that members of the Muslim Izala sect were walking to a prayer ground to celebrate the Eid el-Fitir Sallah. On the way, they were challenged by a Christian mob who accused Muslims of spoiling their Christmas last year by bombing their homes. Estimates are that at least ten persons from both sides were killed before the military restored order.

International attention with respect to Nigeria at present is focused on Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement that may be responsible for the suicide bombing of the UN Nigeria headquarters building in Abuja on August 26. Though Boko Haram and Izala both look to the establishment of a pure Islamic state based on Sharia, I doubt that the latest episode in Jos has anything to do with the former. The latest episode in Jos appears to be part of a local cycle of revenge killings that is, indeed, acquiring an increased religious coloration, but is likely unrelated to the UN building bombing in Abuja or Boko Haram instigated violence.

Read more »