Over the last two decades Nigeria has become the bloodiest battle zone in Africa. For a few years it was Islamic terrorism dominating the violence, but most of the time it was an even older battle between tribes that were herders versus the more numerous farming tribes. Because the Nigerian population is half Christian (mainly in the south) and half Moslem the battles between farmers and herders occurs often contain a religious element as well. Many of the victims are Christians and that is often deliberate. In 2018 about 2,400 Christians were killed in northern and central Nigeria. Since 2015 over 16,000 Christians have been killed, most of them deliberately sought out and murdered by Islamic terror group Boko Haram. There is growing pressure from the Christian half of the population as well as foreign nations with Christian majorities, for Nigeria to put an end to this religious persecution. It is definitely persecution when Boko Haram does it. Seeking out and killing non-Moslems is an acknowledged goal of Boko Haram.
The farmer versus herder violence in northern and central Nigeria is mainly about land and who controls it. While the herders are often militant Fulani Moslems, most of the farmers they battle in the north are also Moslem. Many Fulani agree with Boko Haram about how killing non-Moslems is what devout Moslems should do as often as possible. Most of the farmers killed by Fulani are Christians and in 2018 the Fulani herders killed more Christians in Nigeria than had Boko Haram. That trend has continued. In 2014 and 2015 Boko Haram was a major Islamic terrorist threat in terms of people killed and in those two years exceeded ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in people killed. Most media coverage of Islamic terrorist violence concentrated on ISIL in Syria and Iraq, but most of the religion-based killing was taking place in Africa, mainly Nigeria. Since 2000 about 20,000 Nigerians died in the land wars between Fulani herders and Christian and Moslem farmers. In that same period more than twice as many Nigerians were killed by Boko Haram, a group that did not exist until 2002 and was largely non-violent until 2009, when violent army efforts to exterminate Boko Haram, including killing its founder, turned Boko Haram into a very violent organization. The government responded with a major military operation which, by 2015, had crippled but not destroyed Boko Haram. Boko Haram also split apart, with half of them joining ISIL. The military pressure continues and Boko Haram attacks on civilians have diminished while Fulani violence against civilians, especially Christians, increased. Those trends continue. While Islamic terrorism comes and goes, as it has done for over a thousand years, violence towards non-Moslems is a constant.
Christians in the Middle East and Africa are dismayed to discover that the increasing anti-Christian violence by local Islamic conservatives and terrorists is largely being ignored in the West. One of the worst examples is Nigeria where, since 2004 over a million Christians living in the Moslem majority north of the country have been chased from their homes and over 15,000 of them killed. Nearly all the Moslems killed in the north are victims of Boko Haram and most of the few Moslems killed by northern Christians are Boko Haram men killed by self-defense militias protecting their homes and families.
Boko Haram literally means “Western education is forbidden” and to many Islamic terrorists nothing is more “Western” and forbidden than Christianity. This despite the fact that Christianity has been around a lot longer than Islam. Often, as in Nigeria, the first invaders were Moslems not Christians. As a result, southern Nigeria is largely Christian while the north is largely Moslem. But for over a century Moslem tribes from the north have been moving south looking for more grazing lands and consider it an economic and religious duty to chase out any Christian tribes in the way.
The Fulani tribes and their fondness for violence and Islamic terrorism have caused a major problem for Mali, Niger, Burkino Faso and Nigeria. The Fulani are the largest single ethnic group in the Sahel (the semi-desert zone between the Sahara Desert and well-watered land to the south). There are about 40 million Fulani and more than half of them are in Mali, Niger, Burkino Faso and Nigeria. Only about a third of Fulani are nomadic herders and 90 percent are Moslem. The majority of Fulani, especially the non-nomadic tribes, are often prominent in business and politics where they have settled down. For example the current, and recently reelected president of Nigeria is a Fulani, and he has to deal with the largest Fulani population (about 37 percent of all Fulani) in Africa and the source of most current mayhem in Nigeria. While the Fulani are only about eight percent of the population in Nigeria, a smaller number (about three million) are about 16 percent of the Mali population and prominent in the growing tribal (nomad versus farmer) and Islamic terrorist violence, which has come to include a revival of slavery.
Boko Haram brought back slavery, mainly by enslaving, rather than killing Christians they captured. The Fulani did not practice slavery because it was less practical for nomads than for settled populations. Nigeria always had a large slave population, the result of constant tribal wars or civil wars in unstable kingdoms.
Britain spent most of the 19th century trying to suppress the practice of slavery in Africa. Colonial Nigeria, which supplied about 30 percent of the slaves sent to the United States, did not see slavery legally eliminated until about 1900 and, for decades after that, the practice quietly continued in rural areas. There was a similar problem throughout the region and in countries like Mauritania and Sudan, where slavery is technically illegal, but some groups get away with quietly trading and keeping slaves. Islamic fundamentalists are particularly enthusiastic about this because Islamic scripture does have a lot to say about enslaving non-Moslems, or Moslems you consider heretics.
Then there is the perception problem. While Moslems like to think of themselves as the victims of anti-Moslem Western aggression the reality is quite the opposite. Islam is, in reality, a region of intolerance and hypocrisy. In the West this is obvious, but in the Moslem world it is not. Consider the fact that Moslems demand that others be tolerant of their customs but refuse to respect the customs, or religions, of others. Moslems are free to practice their religion in the West while in many Moslem countries others are not. Saudi Arabia does not even allow any religious buildings that are not Moslem. There are no Christian churches, Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues or any non-Moslem house of worship in Saudi Arabia. It is against the law there. In many Moslem countries it is illegal to convert a Moslem to another religion. In some Moslem countries (like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) the penalty for any Moslem converting is death. There is a reason for all this.
The word “Islam” derives from the Arabic word “istaslama” which means, literally, “submission.” What is implied, for most Moslems, is that non-Moslems must submit as well, whether they want to or not. Refusal to submit is a sign of intolerance, religious bigotry, racism and blasphemy and most definitely against Islamic scripture and practice. For Islamic conservatives, clergy and scholars there can be no other interpretation. Westerners have had a hard time understanding this crucial cultural difference, but now it is becoming violently obvious to Moslems and non-Moslems alike, especially in countries where lots of Moslems live next to largely Christian populations.
Moslems in the West expect the locals to accommodate their religion and customs, even though some of those customs, like genital mutilation, honor killings, mandatory arranged marriages, and much more are illegal in the West. Yet Moslems have no intention of being accommodating to Westerners. Most Moslems don’t care if Westerners see Islam as a religion of intolerance, of all take and no give. To Moslems it is natural to demand submission from those with other religious beliefs and not to reciprocate or show tolerance, unless forced to.
Moslems are now being forced to confront their long history of violent intolerance. This flawed view of Islamic terrorism has lots of nasty side effects. Take, for example, the growing anti-Christian violence by Moslems. Christians in countries with Moslem majorities, or large minorities, are having a difficult time getting the rest of the world to recognize that most, as in about 80 percent, of the religious violence (not counting Islamic terrorism) in the world is carried out against Christians and most of the violence is committed by Moslems. This is because the Islamic world, while unable to do much in terms of economic, scientific, or cultural progress, or even govern themselves effectively, have proven quite adept at convincing leaders and media organizations in the West that Islam is not the aggressor and is actually the victim. For those who have spent any time living among Moslems, this all seems absurd. But this delusion is real among many Moslems.
The effort to eliminate the religion angle when it comes to Islamic terrorism is also present in the United States. For example, for a long time it was official policy in the U.S. military to eliminate any mention of a war between Islam and the West. This policy is enforced despite the fact that Islam, at least according to many Moslems, is definitely at war with the West. The U.S. has officially maintained this illusion since shortly after September 11, 2001, despite the fact that many Islamic clerics and government officials in Moslem nations, openly and frequently agree with the "Islam is at war with the West" idea. But many Western leaders prefer to believe that by insisting that such hostile religious attitudes are not widespread in Moslem countries, the hostility will diminish. To that end the U.S. government has, for years, been removing any reference to "Islam" and "terrorism" in official documents. This comes as a shock to military or civilian personnel who have spent time in Moslem countries. The "Islam is at war with the West" angle is alive and well among Moslems and when you look at media in Moslem countries it is all pretty explicit.
There is plenty of other evidence. For example, twenty nations account for over 95 percent of terrorism activity in the world. Of these twenty (Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Uganda, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, Algeria, Thailand, Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Iran, Burundi, India, Nigeria, and Israel) all but four of them (Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Colombia, and Burundi) involve Islamic terrorism. In terms of terrorism fatalities the top four nations (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia) accounted for 75 percent of the world total of terrorism related deaths. All of these were the result of Islamic radicalism, often directed at other Moslems and not just non-Moslems (infidels).