Tuesday, January 06, 2004

BBC - Nigerians 'Crush' Islamic Uprising

A reminder that Islamic militancy isn't just a problem in the Middle East and Asia.

An insurrection by Islamic militants in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Yobe has been ended by the police and army, say local officials.

However the BBC's Mato Adamu in Yobe says that clashes are continuing in some areas.

State Governor Bukar Ibrahim said many "Taleban-oriented radicals" seeking an Islamic state had been killed.

Reports suggest that at least one police officer also died.

The uprising began early last week when militants attacked police stations in a number of towns, burned buildings and stole large quantities of weapons.

At one state building they occupied, the militants pulled down the Nigerian flag and raised that of Afghanistan.

The violence reportedly ended at the weekend after hundreds of Nigerian soldiers were sent to a military camp run by the "Taleban" group near the border with Niger.

Islamic revivalist militancy isn't a new feature on the West African landscape. The repercussions of Othman Dan Fodio's 1804 jihad, which led to the subjugation of all the Hausa states by a Fulani overclass and the creation of the Sokoto Caliphate, are still being felt in Nigeria today, while I still recall the panic invoked by the Maitatsine riots in the early 1980s. There was also a great deal of tension between the Muslim north and Christian south of Nigeria during the late 1980s, when Babangida unilaterally enrolled Nigeria in the Organization of Islamic Countries, despite the fact that fully half of the nation's population didn't adhere to Islam. What has changed isn't the existence of Islamic militant tendencies in Nigeria, but the profile they have been accorded by the Western media since the incidents of September 11, 2001.