- West Africa
- Conflicts - Religion - Governance
Nigerian sectarian violence: Religion as a pretext
The city of Jos in Nigeria’s Plateau State was the scene recent of communal clashes that registered the death of several hundreds of people. Although no official figures have been provided, various sources indicate that at least 400 could have perished. A week after the attacks, residents are still fleeing the troubled area. Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, Nigeria specialist, talks to Afrik-news.com about the real reasons behind the so-called religious conflicts that have repeatedly rocked the Nigerian middle belt in recent years.
After several days of violent confrontations, calm is slowly returning to the city of Jos, capital of Plateau State, a middle belt area caught between Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. But despite the appearance of a return to normalcy many residents are still fleeing the area, as fears of renewed clashes linger.
After consulting with Muslim leaders in Jos to determine the number of deaths, Human Rights Watch indicate that the sectarian violence may have claimed the lives of at least "364 Muslims”. For the time being, no official death toll has been established. But according to religious sources and rescuers, the toll could exceed 400 deaths.
Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos, a researcher at the Institute of Development Research (IRD) and an African conflict specialist sheds light on the Jos conflict. Interview.
Afrik-news.com: What is the cause of these clashes in Jos?
Afrik-news.com: Are these "settlers" victims of discrimination in Nigeria?
Afrik-news.com: Why is the city of Jos and its periphery particularly affected by sectarian violence?
Afrik-news.com: Who are the troublemakers? _Marc-Antoine Pérouse de Montclos: Most of these riots are perpetrated by young people. Both Christian and Muslim neighborhoods in Jos have their own militias for self-defense. Residents contribute to and mobilize these militias, which may also be financed by local elites. Moreover, military veterans sometimes get involved in these conflicts by training and arming the groups. These militias have no connection with the Islamists.
Afrik-news.com: In Nigeria, the Islamists are not linked to al-Qaeda ...
Afrik-news.com: In your opinion, will these clashes in Jos last?