Censoring Islamic sermons new anti-jihad tactic

by Diana Chandler, posted Friday, August 12, 2016 (one year ago)

BORNO, Nigeria (BP) -- The governor of Boko Haram's birthplace Borno has formed a board to monitor and censor Islamic preaching in hopes of preventing the jihadists from spreading violent Islamism and recruiting fighters, Nigeria's Channels TV reported.

Gov. Kashim Shettima appointed the Borno State Islamic Preaching Board Aug. 11, urging the group to monitor sermons of Islamic clerics in Borno's 27 local government areas, especially remote locations, according to Channels.

"We must take firm, consistent and knowledge-based steps to continuously separate those clerics who preach in the name of Allah and those who kill innocent souls in the name of Allah," Shettima said, warning the board that Boko Haram routinely regroups under the guise of religion.

The regulation of preaching in Nigeria is a controversial topic, Newsweek reported, pointing out criticism Christians and Muslims waged against Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai in March, when he proposed a law banning street preaching without an annual permit.

Boko Haram launched its first attacks in Borno in 2009, killing an estimated 25,000 and displacing 2 million since then, but has been pushed back from territories it had overtaken in northeastern Nigeria prior to 2015 national elections.

Rising as a militant force against Christians in Nigeria are Muslim Fulani herdsmen who kill Christians for their farmland, using it to graze cattle. In the herdsmen's latest attacks, they killed at least 13 Christians in Kaduna and scattered hundreds who attended three Christian churches, Morning Star News reported Aug. 10.

In the attacks, herdsmen killed at least two Christian women Aug. 1 in north-central Nigeria, killed at least eight other Christians the next day in Gada Biyu, and two others Aug. 3 in Akwa'a, Morning Star said. Nigerian security forces responded to the violence, witnesses told Morning Star, but the herdsmen were able to return to the area and burn homes.

Alheri Baptist Church, Sabon Rai Baptist Church and an Evangelical Church Winning All congregation were displaced from Gada Biyu.

Church leaders characterized the attacks as a war "by Islam to eliminate Christianity" in Nigeria, Morning Star said, where about 51 percent of the people are Christians. The attacks marked the herdsmen's fourth strike on the area this year, but herdsmen have long maintained a tribal conflict with Christians over land rights.

The 2015 Global Terrorism Index blamed Fulani herdsmen for 1,229 deaths in Nigeria in 2014.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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