Nigeria: Defending Islam

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February 22, 2008: The government has extradited a MEND leader, Henry Okah, who had been arrested, five months ago, for trying to illegally buy weapons in Angola. The government was not eager to take custody of Okah, because his followers like to kidnap people, often kin of politicians, and demand that MEND prisoners be released. But MEND is not winning its war in the Niger Delta. The violence is there, with dozens of casualties a week, but the government has managed to secure the oil facilities. And the growth in oil gang violence has spilled over into everyday life, making the "rebels" unpopular with most residents of the delta. That doesn't make the corrupt government officials any more popular, however. It's still a mess.

February 10, 2008: In the north, Islamic radicals have instigated mobs to attack Christians (who are accused of mocking the prophet Mohammed, or trying to marry Moslems, or just being there). Several churches were destroyed and dozens of Christians killed or injured. Over a thousand Christians have fled their homes. The Moslems always insist they are defending Islam from attack, but it's almost always the Moslems who are doing the attacking.

February 7, 2008: The rebel groups in the Niger Delta have split. Many of the Ijaw (the majority group) tribal leaders want to negotiate. But several factions of MEND (a coalition of local criminal gangs seeking political and economic benefits) want to continue attacks on oil facilities.

 

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