Monday, December 28, 2009

Religious clashes in bomb suspect's state have killed thousands

From The London Times-

Nigeria is devoutly religious, one of the most religious countries not just in Africa but in the world.

About half of Nigeria's fast-growing population of more than 150 million is Muslim and a third Christian, with many others practising indigenous religions. There are small numbers of other religions, including about 40,000 Jewish people, one of the oldest-established Jewish populations in the world.

The alleged bomber's family compound is in Katsina, an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim northern Nigeria where its famous 50-foot 14th century Gobarau Minaret is a popular tourist attraction and has become a worldwide symbol of African Islam.

Katsina is one of several states that have introduced criminal Sharia in the last decade, sparking clashes, often between Muslims and the Christian minority, that have led to thousands of deaths.

Under criminal Sharia, penalties can include flogging for drinking alcohol, chopping off hands and feet for thieves who reoffend and stoning of adulterers.

Christianity is also growing fast in Nigeria, in particular Protestant, charismatic Christianity, in the south. Nigeria is the second biggest province in the Anglican Communion, with 19 million baptised church members compared to 25 million in England. The big difference, though, is that in Nigeria, most are practising. Catholics are in the majority also in some areas.

One particular brand of radical Islam, Izala, is among the Islamic sects in Katsina and is comparable in some respects to extremist Islamic movements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Izala, a Sunni sect, attracts the academic elite and supports the universal application of Sharia.

More here-

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