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Between Maitatsine and Boko Haram: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Response of the Nigerian State

From: Africa Today
Volume 57, Number 4, Summer 2011
pp. 98-119 | 10.1353/at.2011.0016

Abstract

Abstract:

Nigeria has a long history of religious conflicts, some of the most virulent being those of the Maitatsine (1980s) and Boko Haram (July 2009). The latter matched the former in intensity, organization, and spread. Given the international attention to global terrorism, there is the likelihood that fundamentalist groups receive motivation, material, and ideological support or influence from a global jihadist movement. Unresolved national issues, including the weak economy, weak security and intelligence apparatuses, and the failure to define what the national culture and identity is, are critical factors. The precedent of Maitatsine and the government's handling of it suggest that government incapacity and lack of political will have served to encourage recurrence and question the state's capacity. This paper discusses the resurgence of violence under the guise of religious revivalism and draws parallels between the Maitatsine uprisings and the Boko Haram uprising. It examines the Nigerian state response to these uprisings. It concludes that unless the state addresses concretely and tackles bravely the conditions that can aid or fuel violent religious revivalism, uprisings may recur.



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