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“Western culture is Islamically forbidden”
October 27, 2013 6:22 PM   Subscribe

When the car exploded, the same two words occurred to him, and to the ticket taker, and to every other person who saw or heard the blast, which could be heard on the other side of Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city: Boko Haram. That neither they, nor practically anyone else in Nigeria, knew what Boko Haram was exactly or why it would want to bomb a bus station was beside the point. Officially, according to the Nigerian government, Boko Haram is a terrorist group. It began life as a separatist movement led by a northern Nigerian Muslim preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, who decried the country’s misrule. “Boko Haram” is a combination of the Hausa language and Arabic, understood to mean that Western, or un-Islamic, learning is forbidden. In 2009, after Yusuf was killed [BBC, The Guardian]—executed, it’s all but certain, by Nigerian police—his followers vowed revenge.

Boko Haram 101
Africa desert helps breed radicals, from Al Shabab to Boko Haram to Mr. Marlboro - "'Sahelistan' is what the French foreign minister calls the sub-Saharan zone of Sahel. Al Qaeda-linked groups from places like Mail and Nigeria have been driven into hiding there and hit Western targets. The zone may become a 'breeding ground' for terrorists, says the UN Security Council."
The Rise Of Boko Haram In Nigeria
2011 DEC 28 - The Rise Of Boko Haram:
On Christmas day, a bomb was detonated at St. Theresa's Catholic Church on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital, Abuja, killing at least 35. Two other bombs exploded at Christmas ceremonies across Nigeria, killing five more. Soon after the bombings, a spokesman for Boko Haram, a radical Islamic group based in northern Nigeria, claimed responsibility.

"By the grace of God, we are responsible for all the attacks," a man known as Abul-Qaqa, who claims to be a spokesman for the group, told a Nigerian newspaper. "There will never be peace until our demands are met. We want all our brothers who have been incarcerated to be released; we want full implementation of the sharia system and we want democracy and the constitution to be suspended.
Who Are Boko Haram And Why Are They Terrorizing Nigerian Christians?

Council of Foreign Relations: Nigeria Security Tracker
Nigeria: An Ephemeral Peace

Mitigating Radicalism in Northern Nigeria, from the Africa Center For Strategic Studies, via the Christian Science Monitor: How to deal with Boko Haram: A primer - "New 8-page study says local initiatives and national political will are key to dealing with radical jihad in northern Nigeria."

NSFWCorp (paywalled): The War Nerd: Nigeria's Inevitable Mess
Life With Boko Haram

Amnesty International: Keep away from schools or we’ll kill you’: Right to education under attack in Nigeria and Nigeria: Deaths of hundreds of Boko Haram suspects in custody requires investigation

Boko Haram leader calls for more schools attacks after dorm killings
Vigilantes Defeat Boko Haram In Its Nigerian Base

Boko Haram - What's In A Name?

Nigerian Islamist militants return from Mali with weapons, skills
The Terror Diaspora: The U.S. Military And The Unraveling Of Africa
Oil Worries Extend Beyond Libya And Syria
The American Oil Boom And African Security

Map of Africa
posted by the man of twists and turns (34 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great post, thanks.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:31 PM on October 27, 2013


Now I can't get "Whiter Shade of Pale" out of my head.
posted by EnterTheStory at 6:41 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


On a more serious note...
It began life as a separatist movement led by a northern Nigerian Muslim preacher, Mohammed Yusuf, who decried the country’s misrule

This, this, a thousand times this!

If western leaders want to defeat terrorism they don't need to bomb the other guys or spy on everybody. Just stop being such hypocrites! Capitalism is a great idea in principle, that principle being "earn whatever wealth you can create". If that principle was followed there could be no unearned wealth, no rigged rules for the rich. So there could be no poverty: everyone would have an equal chance if they worked hard, as nobody was fixing thr game.

But instead we get spiraling injustice where the rich grab what they can: trade wars that cause millions to starve, bankers who are rewarded for failure, and ever more creative ways for the powerful to stay in power regardless of any ability. This leads to massive inequality, massive corruption, and obviously the poor world gets it worst. It breeds terrorism.

Just ask the terrorists, they all tell the same story: poor kids who have no education and no future, or rich kids who just get so angry at what the west is doing. Hey, western leaders: stop being hypocrites. Do capitalism like you pretend it should be. End market failure (i.e. secrecy, rewards for failure). Drain the swamp you created.
posted by EnterTheStory at 6:55 PM on October 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yep, it's the same Al Queda song from before 9/11 and Americans hearing of them, auld buying into as heroic because you've read an article about globalization or whatever makes you a moron now as it would then - the rise of these assholes is the symptom of a problem, not a solution, not heroic or admirable.
posted by Artw at 7:20 PM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


EnterTheStory: We have terrorism because there is too much regulations of markets, or not enough 'capitalism' in the world?

Capitalism is a great idea in principle, that principle being "earn whatever wealth you can create". I thought the behind Capitalism is that if you have capital, you can make it work for you... I like to point this out to all the cheerleaders of capitalism out there who call themselves capitalists - unless you have money making more money for you, you aren't really a capitalist, merely a fan of it. What you describe is closer to what I think of as a 'protestant work ethic'.

Sorry for the derail on this.
posted by el io at 7:40 PM on October 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


So, because capitalism, they bomb schools and churches. Silly Africans, they don't know who their real enemies are, they should be blowing up bankers!

Sorry, but this sounds like some white guy sitting thousands of miles away putting everything thorough his ideological filter.
posted by happyroach at 8:08 PM on October 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


el - you are right, capitalism is about capital. But all the capitalists I have ever heard - the successful ones - really mean free markets. Too late to edit I suppose.
posted by EnterTheStory at 8:09 PM on October 27, 2013


Mohammed Yusef also told the BBC that Darwinism, the sphericality of the Earth and the water cycle are contrary to Islam. The guy was a fucking lunatic and his ideas on injustice can't be taken as sincerely held because his motives for speaking about "misrule" etc. were insane. I'm sure that the problems of governance in Nigeria have helped recruit many people to Boko Haram, but it is a movement that operates under its own ideology. It cannot be niced to death.
posted by topynate at 8:10 PM on October 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


@happyroach - again, I should have referred to markets, not capitalism. I am guessing you are American and have not lived with actual terrorist sympathisers? Apologies if my guess is wrong. But if you live with it daily, it's all about choices on the ground.

@topynate - Yusef is only a problem because he has sympathy from people who are not mad.
posted by EnterTheStory at 8:16 PM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


[One comment deleted, maybe we can leave the capitalism-in-the-west derail and talk about Boko Haram? Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:32 PM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Send in the drones. That ought to clear this terrorist infestation right up.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:11 PM on October 27, 2013


I read through some of the articles to see the complexities of factional warfare, and it all comes down the same source. It's always the same. It's always Britain's fault.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:21 PM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Metadiscussion removed; to clarify, talking about economic stuff in Nigeria or as related to Boko Haram is not a derail; go right ahead. This is a meaty post with a ton to discuss.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:31 PM on October 27, 2013


Speaking admittedly as some white guy living thousands of miles away, a common thread among would-be tyrants seems to me to be their enthusiasm for ignorance. Keep female children out of school and restrict any curriculum to religious or ideological indoctrination. It's not entirely about "western" versus other cultures. They know that knowledge is power and, more importantly, that ignorance and superstition, if properly exploited, are the basis of their power. It's obviously not a situation amenable to simple solutions but a greater insistence by the west (and the ascending east) on human rights, education and clean water over boots on the ground, drones in the air or corporate access to natural resources might be a start. (Not that we're doing all that well in our own part of the world.)
The only certainty is that it's a fucking mess and nobody has any easy answers.
posted by islander at 10:15 PM on October 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this, that piece in LeMode Diplo was particularly strong. Quite an indictment of US actions and short-sightedness in West Africa, really. Indeed, if Iraq was perceived to invalidate the "boots on the ground", decadal intervention, than arguably Libya invalidated the "surgical strike" intervention as well. Pieces like this help contextualise some of the hesitation around bombing Syria - collapsed states collapse in unpredictable ways.
posted by smoke at 10:32 PM on October 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


EnterTheStory: "Just ask the terrorists, they all tell the same story: poor kids who have no education and no future, or rich kids who just get so angry at what the west is doing. Hey, western leaders: stop being hypocrites. Do capitalism like you pretend it should be. End market failure (i.e. secrecy, rewards for failure). Drain the swamp you created."

I am not acquainted with any of the people seeking the suspension of democracy and the market economy in the United States (few as they probably are), much less Nigeria. My hunch is that no one on the Blue is. Our views are all mediated by the media we consume, so the best attitude is one of skepticism towards everyone flogging an ideology that will cure tyranny.

That said, I think 'terrorism' only dominates the headlines because of the global media apparatus that has blossomed since 9/11. If these guys (Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, etc.) were truly against the market economy and its associated ills, they would be much more rule-abiding Marxists. But they're not, which means they know how to exploit the system in order to get what they want (attention, and through which more recruits). My hunch is that a "fairer, more equal world" is just part of the stuff you get on the ground floor before they sell you on how great it would be to keep 10 wives in purdah, carry around a big gun and tell other people how to behave, "or else."

There are a million different breeds of reactionary politics, especially where capitalism is the thing being reacted to. I don't think that sharia law necessarily follows from a rejection of western capitalism though, and saying that Boko Haram is this way because that's all they know is just a dodge that plays up the other false dichotomies of the 21st century (security or liberty? responsibility or socioeconomic background? etc.).

It's one thing to shift responsibility from welfare dependents because of the inequalities inherent in the 21st century--that's a valid argument that I more or less ascribe to. It's entirely another thing to try and exonerate these guys on essentially the same basis. I mean, for fuck's sake, they're bombing churches and torturing people.
posted by anewnadir at 10:54 PM on October 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


what anewnadir just said:

And...What's happening in a lot of these out-of-the-way terrorist enclaves with no rule of law is kind of like the Wild West before things settled down. Development, capital infusion, etc. reached a tipping point where enough people were invested in capital gains that law enforcement became a valid deterrent to cleaning things up.

The difference in Nigeria, Somalia, etc is that the lawless ones are ideologically driven. For them, development solutions that bring change are exactly what they don't want.

Solution: use every means possible to find these lawless, killing, raping, motherfucking assholes and wipe them off the face of this good earth. Screw "cultural relativity" when it comes to rationalizing any of the horrendous things these jerks are up to. Wipe them out. The faster, the better. No mercy. Every time I hear about innocent kids getting blown up just because they went to school, it desensitizes any inhibition I feel about "negotiable" solutions. These assholes are dangerous. If they could ever find the means to use nukes or bio-weapons, they would. Kill them.

That said, the developed West IS responsible for a lot of this. We have created such utter human desolation with our greed, that blowback is mushrooming. We can't kill every terrorist; we shouldn't be fighting large wars, but we should be working to make sure the conditions we contributed to are somehow leveled out, but we need to get rid of the worst of the terrorsist psychopaths. .

Also, the countries where stuff like this happens are so rife with corruption it's not even funny. The wealthy people in places like Nigeria live large among the squalor of their fellow human beings. In fact, they show off their wealth in ways that is unbelievable, given the obvious poverty that surrounds them. This is true to some degree all over the world, but it's just that much more corrosive when you see it in places like Nigeria, etc. etc.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:54 AM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could not disagree more. Violence is the problem, not the solution.

Macro economics is the study of human behavior. It simplifies matters by tracing them to their root cause. Root causes are always simple human needs: we want to eat. We want to get stuff. Religion, politics, war, and everything else are merely means to an end.

To illustrate, let us see the root cause of the Boko Haram conflict. Superficial reports attribute it to religious conflict, but that is a description, not an explanation: why do some people fight and others do not? Well, why don't we ask the people who fight? It might be a good starting point. Let them explain in their own terms.

A transcript, in their own words, is here.

Note that they see Islam as the solution to their anger, but what is the cause of their anger?

They claim that the government is to blame for the problems, and give "Zango Kataf, Tafawa Balewa, Kaduna" as "examples of the innumerable injustices that have happened times without number in this country." Let us look at these examples.

Zango Kataf: Surprise surprise it is all about economics, made worse by corruption. From the Wikipedia summary:

"In 1922 the emir acquired a stretch of land in Zango town, the capital, with no compensation. In 1966 the emir gave the land, now used as a market, to the Hausa community. The Atyap complained that the Hausa traders treated them as slaves in this market. Tensions steadily increased [e.g. over] loss of trading privileges. Over 60 people were killed in the February [1992] clashes. Further violence broke out in Zango on May 15/16, with 400 people killed and most buildings destroyed." One leader was arrested, "It was said that Lekwot's arrest was due to his feud with Ibrahim Babangida, then Head of State. No Hausa were charged. Continued tension and outbreaks of violence were reported as late as 2006."

In other words it is all economic.

His second example, Tafawa Balewa. From the Wikipedia summary:

Tafawa Balewa was "a vocal leader for Northern interests as one of the few educated Nigerians of his time. He was also an international statesman, widely respected across the African continent as one of the leaders who encouraged the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Nicknamed the Golden Voice of Africa because of his oratory, he stands as one of only three National Heroes of the Nigerian Nation."

Balewa was involved in public building projects, transport, creating political freedom. He opposed injustice, e.g. in South Africa. These were all questions of economic freedom. And what happened?

"He was overthrown and murdered in a military coup on January 15, 1966, as were many other leaders, including his old companion Ahmadu Bello. The circumstances of his death still remain unresolved. His body was discovered by a roadside near Lagos six days after he was ousted from office."

Now let us look at the third example given: Kaduna. Kaduna is famous for a miss world pageant in 2002: "an article in a Lagos newspaper that offended Muslims over the upcoming Miss World pageant scheduled for that week in the capital city of Abuja, suggesting that if Muhammad watched the beauty pageant he would end up marrying one of its contestants. A massive riot ensued." So the question arises, why was there so much tension in Kaduna?

Kaduna is the economic center of the north: e.g. with an Oil refinery, tobacco, and other natural resources. These are classic examples of how incoming industries take the wealth out of the country, but perhaps I am missing some other explanation. There are Christian teacher training colleges in Kaduna, which makes it an obvious sparking point for any group tensions. So Kaduna becomes a sign of any tensions in Nigeria as a whole. So where do those tensions come from? That is the sixty four thousand dollar question.

For the causes of Nigerian tensions see this academic report on the roots of Nigerian conflict, prepared for the UK government:

Identities do not by themselves lead to conflicts.

So what does? Let's see the real causes:

"What distinguishes these conflicts and underlies the characterization of Nigeria as a deeply divided state is the tendency of these conflicts to be violent because they often involve territorial claims in a context of
(i) sharp and often overlapping cultural cleavages
(ii) historical (pre-colonial and colonial) conflict legacies
(iii) competition for highly valued, but relatively scarce, resources,
including land, new administrative boundaries and headquarters, bureaucratic and political placement, infrastructures, trading opportunities, and other goods
(iv) actual and perceived horizontal inequalities in access to diverse resources and
(v) state failure or mismanagement of inter-ethnic relations.

So every single case is either economic, historically economic, or mismanagement of the results. It's all economic, folks.

These examples, Zango Kataf, Tafawa Balewa, and Kaduna, are the examples given by the group we call Boko Haram, for why they reject the west. In each case the problems arise from economics.

This is typical of the events that create all terrorist groups. The people on the ground remember innumerable economic injustices against them. They do not see any great changes. This is the water they swim in, the air they breathe. Eventually some will conclude that the other side is fundamentally evil and proceed from that basis, using religion or nationalism as shorthand.

I keep hearing people say this or that situation is complicated. It is only complicated if we ignore the economic causes.
posted by EnterTheStory at 2:41 AM on October 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Solution: use every means possible to find these lawless, killing, raping, motherfucking assholes and wipe them off the face of this good earth. Screw "cultural relativity" when it comes to rationalizing any of the horrendous things these jerks are up to. Wipe them out. The faster, the better. No mercy. Every time I hear about innocent kids getting blown up just because they went to school, it desensitizes any inhibition I feel about "negotiable" solutions. These assholes are dangerous. If they could ever find the means to use nukes or bio-weapons, they would. Kill them.

How do you propose to do that? Have you got a magical missile that only kills bad people?

I don't understand what you mean by 'cultural relativity', which makes at least two of us.
posted by atrazine at 3:22 AM on October 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


These examples, Zango Kataf, Tafawa Balewa, and Kaduna, are the examples given by the group we call Boko Haram, for why they reject the west. In each case the problems arise from economics.

Your first example, that of Zango Kataf, is the only one that is about economics. Linking the other two examples (the assassination of a popular political leader and a remark linking the prophet Mohammed to a beauty contest) to economic causes by hand-waving doesn't actually make them about economics.
posted by atrazine at 3:30 AM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Vibrissae - Solution: use every means possible to find these lawless, killing, raping, motherfucking assholes and wipe them off the face of this good earth

atrazine - How do you propose to do that? Have you got a magical missile that only kills bad people?

That is so last decade, fashion has moved on darling. These days the with-it moral absolutists are talking about genetically engineering a deadly virus that infects only lawless, killing, raping, motherfucking assholes. One of the side benefits of this project is that once we have isolated the gene for lawless, killing, raping, motherfucking assholism we can genetically screen all future children in utero.

Sadly this has not yet come to pass so the Nigerian military are relegated to using traditional techniques, as described in the link provided by the OP.
Amnesty International has received credible information from a senior officer in the Nigerian Army that over 950 people died in military custody in the first six months of 2013 alone. Most of the reported deaths occurred in facilities used by the military to detain people suspected of being members of or associated with the armed Islamist group Boko Haram.
With this much justice being dispensed I am sure the number of lawless, killing, raping, motherfucking assholes will be reduced to a manageable level soon. Then all that will be required would be some kind of ultimate conclusion to the problem.
posted by asok at 4:09 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you have no money, no power and no future, but you DO have a gun, and someone tells you over and over that THEY are holding you back and THEY believe in the Wrong God and THEY are taking what is rightfully yours and THEY are responsible for whatever suffering is around you, the urge to start killing, raping and motherfucking tends to grow exponentially.

This is true for many different values of "you" and "THEY."
posted by delfin at 6:17 AM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wipe them out. All of them.

Ok Darth Sidiuous.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:19 AM on October 28, 2013


Sorry, but this sounds like some white guy sitting thousands of miles away putting everything thorough his ideological filter.

Funny, that's exactly what I thought when I saw this FPP.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


These bastards want to build hell on earth. Fuck 'em.
posted by acb at 6:33 AM on October 28, 2013


Your first example, that of Zango Kataf, is the only one that is about economics. Linking the other two examples (the assassination of a popular political leader and a remark linking the prophet Mohammed to a beauty contest) to economic causes by hand-waving doesn't actually make them about economics.

So economics have nothing to do with the current situation in Nigeria? Is that your contention?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:34 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Folks, let's please dial back the "kill 'em all" rhetoric and/or inarticulate explosions of outrage and try to discuss this very link- and info-rich post a little more in-depth? (Also, complaints about "what Metafilter is like" need to go to Metatalk.) Thanks.]
posted by taz at 6:39 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar, even in just the excerpt you quote, atrazine cites an example that is, indeed, about economics.

Poverty and inequality fuel much of this activity, but there are also other factors.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:53 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


So economics have nothing to do with the current situation in Nigeria? Is that your contention?

It is my contention that riots over a perceived insult to the dominant religion of North Nigeria and a political assassination of a prominent North Nigerian Muslim as part of a long-lasting power struggle between predominantly Muslim Northerners and other, non-Muslim, Nigerians did not have primarily economic causes.

I would further contend that insisting that they do have such causes in support of a theory where everything is ultimately about economics is daft, unless you argue that all social behaviour is either materialist or false conciousness. That is what Marxist theory would suggest, of course, but I know that EnterTheStory isn't a Marxist because no Marxist would have described capitalism the way they did.

I'm sure that regional and inter-personal economic inequalities play a role in the anger that fuels groups like Boko Haram, but insisting that they are entirely motivated by economic causes and then citing examples of BH grievances that aren't economic is a very strange way of arguing that point.
posted by atrazine at 7:23 AM on October 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are lots of factors. So many that the Boko Haram 101 link in the OP talks about how nobody seems to know for sure which factor is the primary one. Religious fundamentalism, local politics, revenge killings, desire for a coup, outside terror groups, poverty and associated discontent, and a general sense of It's Saturday, And There's Nothing Better To Do, Let's Go Out Mother-Rapin', Father-Stabbin', Father Rapin'! Father-Rapers right there on the bench next to me! But I digress.

Public opinion is divided over how to deal with the threat posed by Boko Haram. Many Christians have called for increased military action to obliterate the uprising. The Muslim religious and political elite on the other hand have exhorted Jonathan, a Christian who is wildly unpopular in the north, to demonstrate that he is the president of all Nigerians by reaching out with solutions to the endemic poverty, neglect, and political and economic marginalization they say are at the root of widespread Muslim anger. A successful, lasting resolution to the current crisis will likely need to incorporate a little of both these stances.

Leaving out Christians-eh-heh-heh Muslims do-doo-doo argumentation, there is truth here. There are going to be some who resist any and all pacification short of total capitulation. But there will be many who can be reached. An angry man whose life is improving and whose family isn't starving and whose friends aren't being shot often isn't so angry any more, and is less likely to sympathize with or take up arms with the hardcore types.
posted by delfin at 7:30 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is very pertinent to a thing my mother and I argued about briefly a few weeks ago (I mentioned it in another thread at that time).

We were talking about the Second Congo War and I mentioned about the millions dead but we don't hear about it in the West. She instantly went "Muslims! It's the Muslims causing all the war in the world..."

I tried to explain to her that Islam had nothing to do with that particular conflict and she was like "You just don't understand, you are not seeing it..." I'm thinking how absurd it is that a conflict that has no mention of Islam or Muslim in the wiki page regarding the Congo War is somehow considered an Islamic War. But these right-wing fundies have it in their head that all war is now Islamic Holy War, everything else be damned.

I mention this here, because, in the Congo, as the case in the OP, the main source of conflict, is yes, economics, but it's also, more primarily, imperialism.

You cannot look at Africa and the current political situation without the understanding of the history of Imperialism on that continent, whether it be the Brutality of King Leopold in the Congo or the Boer Wars and South Africa, or France and Algeria/Tunisia, etc...

I think we are seeing something similar here that we did with Afghanistan. The West (and in particular the United States, but certainly all the other imperial powers in the region), played a game against forces for independence. Whether it be Cuban intervention in Angola, and the quasi-proxy war there between the US and "Communism" (not, IIRC, the "Soviets" as the USSR wanted nothing to do with it). You see it with Patrice Lumumba, which, of course, is a direct issue with the Congo situation. You see it even with Fela Kuti, for example in Nigeria.

Then you have the example of Thomas Sankara, a very radical, from the ground upwards example of socialism, who was assassinated in a power play by a cohort.

The cultural divisions propagated by artificial national boundaries against the natural socio-geographies that would have otherwise naturally arisen (not that there are never conflicts, of course; it would be folly to suggest such a thing, but enforced division across national boundaries and purposefully playing nationalities/tribes/ethnic divisions against each other in order to maintain the upper hand most assuredly does lead to seething resentment under the surface.

When you have ideologies that present a coherent universalist (or at least anti-imperial) vision, whether it be pan-africanism, anti-colonial socialist movements, or Islamic cultural movements (radical and otherwise), and you attempt to fracture any side from taking a dominant strain in order to keep your ideology the dominant factor, even when it is not the "native" world view, you end up perpetuating conflict. The destruction of the socialist alternative (amongst others; I use socialism as the example, as that is the one that I am most familiar with) has led to a large contingent of demagogues using anti-colonialism as a method to maintain a harsh grip on power to the detriment of their citizens. It has also allowed religious demagogues to take up the banner of anti-colonialism using rhetoric of cultural war against "The West".

This is not just a poverty issue, however.

If you look at a lot of the prime movers in Radical Islam, such as Sayyid Qutb, you find that they are well off, had plenty of exposure to the West and its mores, and in fact, revolted more due to that exposure than lack of exposure.

So we run into an issue that the "solution" isn't necessarily "more of the West" nor is it necessarily turning the Sahel into a neo-Caliphate. More of Western influence could only inflame tensions even more.

So - speaking of demagogues and anti-western/anti-imperial movements, Boko Haram most assuredly plays into that role.

We can look at causes and discuss the role of the west in setting up the current situation, we can critique the current reactionary "anti-imperial" movements (imperialism in another guise, no?), but what is the alternative? Do we even have a right to dictate an alternative? How do you impose that alternative?

Do you just create more powerplays and divisions of factions as you did throughout the breakdown of Colonialism in Africa, leading to ever more fragments?

I don't know. But I do think if you're looking at causes it would be absolutely foolish to not recognize the role that the West and Imperialism have played in the current formation of Africa and African identity, unique to the local cultures and mores that have been embedded for centuries, and thus the current forms of resistance that we see.
posted by symbioid at 9:13 AM on October 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


The wealthy people in places like Nigeria live large among the squalor of their fellow human beings. In fact, they show off their wealth in ways that is unbelievable, given the obvious poverty that surrounds them.

True enough, and bad enough, but among the richest Nigerians, including number 1, are quite a few Muslims.

The nub in this case is the specifically anti-Christian bent. Nigerian Christians.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:31 PM on October 28, 2013


Syed Qutb is not alive any more. I read a few things he wrote. He was at one point in his youth, a foreign student in the Midwest.
A lot of things which seem utterly harmless to an American, things like singles get-togethers in church basements would have utterly shocked him. He started off fairly liberal IRC.
The culture shock was probably a precipitating factor for him becoming so extreme.
I saw a lot of Muslim foreign students have an absolutely terrible time negotiating American culture.
I used to think mentoring programs might have helped them with their dfficulties. Maybe some kind of program that would start once they had student visas and a college or university to go to,
Then 9/11 and no more confused, culture-shocked foreign students....
Seriously, respect and accommodation is a two way ( or more!) street.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:11 PM on October 28, 2013


To reply to IndigoJones.. I think sometimes the rich Nigerian Muslims wrap the green flag around themselves, do some minor 'righteous deeds' and to deflect any anger from Muslim poor people, they start saying nasty things about Christians. Oldest game in the world.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:15 PM on October 28, 2013


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