Skip to comments.Nigerian state bans Muslim group for extremism (disrupting the peace)
Posted on 01/05/2004 6:46:28 PM PST by miltonim
The governor of a central Nigerian state has banned a prominent Muslim group for stirring up religious resentment after a major raid on suspected extremists earlier this month.
It was the latest move in a growing feud between Muslim groups and state authorities dominated by Christians in the central city of Jos, where 1,000 died in religious riots two years ago.
In a radio and television broadcast, Plateau State Governor Joshua Dariye said he would no longer recognise the Council of Ulama (Muslim elders) and accused it of disrupting the peace.
"Henceforth any persons found and confirmed to be a threat to the hard-earned peace in the state will be summarily dealt with by the security agents," Dariye said on Tuesday night.
Police and military forces stormed a compound housing hundreds of Muslims in the early hours of December 18 searching for members of the extremist Maitatsine sect. Four people were killed and eight injured in the raid, which also led to more than 120 detentions, although about 80 were later released.
The sect is blamed by authorities for orchestrating religious riots across northern Nigeria in the 1980s. Jos, which is majority Christian but has a sizeable Islamic minority, was the scene of riots in 2001 that killed about 1,000 people.
Immediately after the raid, the Council of Ulama accused the state of persecuting Muslims and demanded compensation. On Tuesday it went a step further and took out a full-page advertisement in a national daily newspaper accusing the state of "brutal, indiscriminate killing, maiming, arresting and detention of innocent citizens".
State government information officer Dauda Lamba told a news conference: "The prevailing fragile peaceful situation is in jeopardy from the religious excesses of this sect."
"Accordingly it became absolutely imperative and expedient to arrest their leaders for further investigation."
Nigeria's 130 million population is split roughly equally between Muslims and Christians. At least 10,000 have died in religious and ethnic fighting since military rule ended in 1999.
Nigeria was among six countries picked out in a speech purportedly by Osama bin Laden in February as candidates for "liberation", but no evidence of al-Qaeda cells has been uncovered.
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