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Letters from Tokyo
Nigeria Challenged by Radical Islamists
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent
Radical Islamists in Nigeria

The Nation of Nigeria is multi-ethnic and multi-religious and ethnic and religious tensions erupt from time to time. However, the current crisis in parts of northern Nigeria is related to radical Islamists who want to impose Sharia Islamic law on all non-Muslims and to Islamize Nigeria. Therefore, the Nigerian army is bent on crushing Al-Sunna wal Jamma in order to preserve the delicate status quo in northern Nigeria.

The followers of Al-Sunna wal Jamma desire to implement Sharia Islamic law and this applies to controlling the Christian community and followers of traditional beliefs. Once more it is about religion and politics being entwined together under a theocratic theory whereby minorities will become dhimmis.

If we relate the current crisis with Sudan and the enforcement of Islamic Sharia law on non-Muslims, then clearly Al-Sunna wal Jamma is a threat to the nation state. After all, in Sudan the Arab dominated elite wanted to Islamize Sudan and to completely subdue the Christian and Animist minorities. In time, Islamization in Sudan would lead to Arabization because even African Muslims were deemed to belong to an inferior culture and because of this many African Muslims in Sudan also challenged the central state.

Yet what Sudan shows, is that the followers of Al-Sunna wal Jamma could completely destabilize Nigeria because the Christian population in certain cities in the north is sizeable. Also, if Sharia Islamic law was enforced on non-Muslims in Northern Nigeria then in time the same Islamic fanatics would want to introduce the same law to the entire nation.

In 1999 the government of Nigeria allowed the north to introduce Islamic Sharia law and the implementation of this was spearheaded by the state of Zamfara. After Zamfara implemented Sharia Islamic law in the north another eleven states would follow. This applies to
Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kastina, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, and Yobe.

Yet Islamic Sharia law is meant to be implemented for Muslims but clearly many Muslims desire to enforce their views on Christians and other religious minorities. Also, to implement this codified legal system piecemeal is not going to work, after all, what happens if a Muslim wants to convert to Christianity in the north of Nigeria?

If Nigeria is to remain unified then a fair legal system is needed to protect all Nigerian nationals, irrespective if Christian, Muslim, a follower of traditional beliefs, atheist, or whatever. How is it possible to implement Sharia Islamic law and provide equality at the same time for minorities in the north, including Christians?

Islamic Sharia law means that all non-Muslims are inferior in law and society will restrict the movement of women and non-Muslims. Just like what happened in Sudan when policies of Islamization and Arabization were enforced on Africans in this nation. The result of this policy was the enslavement of non-Muslims and a violent civil war, whereby millions were killed.

In the world of Al-Sunna wal Jamma and radical Sunni Islamists, the Nigeria of today will look very different. You will see women being stoned to death for adultery, converts to Christianity will be killed, non-Muslims will be inferior in law, chopping of hands and feet, and other authoritarian measures.

Clearly, for non-Muslims and Muslims who support the unitary nation state, this will lead to chaos and war. Yet despite this, radical Sunni Muslims in Nigeria are bent on implementing the Islamic legal system. Therefore, the military is trying to crush the current uprising in parts of the north. This notably applies to Maiduguri in Borno state and other parts of northern Nigeria, for example in Bauchi, Damaturu, and Wudil.

The President of Nigeria, Umaru Yar’adua, vows to crush the Islamic insurgency and restore order to northern Nigeria. However, the current crisis may lead to more violence and just like in Somalia, outside meddling may pose a severe problem for central forces in Nigeria. After all, foreign Islamists in the past have been good at creating even more mayhem; therefore, the government of Nigeria must check funding organizations or covert Islamic agencies which may try to internationalize the crisis.

At the moment the situation is chaotic and hundreds of people have been killed. Also, attacks have erupted in the past by
Al-Sunna wal Jamma and then this movement went underground. However, last year many Christians and Muslims were killed in Jos and you have reports of Christian churches being destroyed during the current crisis.

Therefore, the Nigerian government must contain the current crisis quickly and firebrand Sunni Islamic leaders must be challenged. The central government must also solve the legal crisis within Nigeria, because it is clear that Islamic Sharia law discriminates against non-Muslims and the rights of women are eroded.

Also, you do have genuine issues in Nigeria which need to be solved and this applies to uneven economic development, rampant poverty, corruption, exploitation of resources, ethnic tensions, religious tensions, and other vital areas of concern. Yet despite this, it is clear that Al-Sunna wal Jamma is not the answer because this organization wants to enslave non-Muslims via dhimmitude and reduce the role of women in society.



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Lee Jay Walker serves as Tokyo Correspondent of The Seoul Times. He specializes in int'l relations and geopolitics. He is also involved in analyst work and research on business. After finishing BA degree in East European Studies at the University of London, he earned MA degree in Asia Pacific Studies at Nottingham Trent University. Website at http://www.leejaywalker.wordpress.com where work is published.

 

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