Nigeria: December 6, 2003


Moslem organizations have long dominated politics in the north, but are now being threatened by better organized and financed Christian missionaries advancing from the south. Nigeria has been a battleground for religions for centuries. First, Islamic missionaries from Arab lands to the north came south to convert followers of ancient animist religions. Two centuries ago, Christian missionaries entered from the coast. Since then, as most (but not all) of the animists in the coastal area became Christians, the missionaries began of both religions have been bumping into each other in central Nigeria. Islam sees itself under siege by stronger Christian missionary efforts. There is increasing violence as young Moslem men attack local churches and missionaries. Christians organize militias to defend themselves. The government, often unable to muster sufficient police or troops to put down the violence, tolerates the militias. But these organizations of armed men are the beginnings of private armies. And this is an essential element in any future civil war. 


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