- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Hawua Yakubu, a human rights activist in Nigeria and a member of the fellowship program for minorities at the United Nations, warned that Boko Haram is seeking establish a "sharia state" and divide Nigeria into two with the north being reserved for Muslims and the south for Christians.
"The attacks on churches and Christians in Nigeria began in 2009,"Yakubu told Mideast Christian News. "Yet, the government hasn't paid attention to them, and has now lost control of them."
She said various sectors realized the seriousness of the matter and called upon the government to control the situation before it worsens.
The term "Boko Haram" is divided into two parts. The first term, "boko," means "Western teaching." The word "haram" is derived from the Arabic word meaning "forbidden" and the whole term means "the prohibition of Western teachings."
Yakubu explained that Boko Haram is an Islamic movement that emerged at the end of the 1990s under the name "Taliban," which didn't bother any of the African countries and thus chose to change its name to Boko Haram.
"The founder of the movement, Mohamed Yusuf [also known as "the tutor"], incited people against the Nigerian government, while the government neglected the matter," Yakubu added.
She said Boko Haram poses a threat to moderate Muslims, as well as Christians, who criticize the group for using religion to achieve political gain.
"They fight Christians because they are different," she said, "but both Christians and Muslims don't want to apply Sharia the way Boko Haram want to."
"Ultimately, the problem with this group is some of the sheikhs included in it, who are known to be resilient and wouldn't surrender easily. Whenever security has pinned down their location, they move to another place. We fear that these groups, who are engaged in guerrilla warfare, would be able to grow in numbers and become more powerful than the Nigerian army," said Yakubu.
She said there is a law in Nigeria to confront terrorism, but is has not yet been applied, for fear of the group's wrath.