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What’s driving the massacres in Nigeria?

March 9, 2010

This Wall Street Journal article is so hard to read and digest, but it’s important for us to know about and try to understand. Were these village massacres in Nigeria a Muslim vs. Christian attack or is religion a secondary issue?  Is this a tribal thing in which the different ethnic groups happen to be Muslim on one side and Christian on the other? How should we approach this? First, a bit of what happened:

The attackers came at night and surrounded this small farming village, firing shots in the air to scare residents from their homes. Men, women and children were hacked with machetes as they rushed out. Several houses were set on fire with residents still inside.

Details are beginning to emerge from attacks Sunday on four villages in central Nigeria, where witnesses say members of the predominantly Muslim Fulani ethnic group targeted villages that were home to members of the mostly Christian Berom ethnic group. On Monday, local officials counted 378 bodies in the villages of Dogo Nahawa, Rasat, Zot and Shen.

Religion is definitely an issue here in terms of how people identify and divide themselves.

The weekend’s attack appeared to be a reprisal for violence that claimed at least 300 lives in January, when Christian villagers targeted Muslims in a separate, nearby village, according to rights groups.

But what is motivating these vicious attacks?

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