As a result of those church bombings and escalating violence elsewhere, Nigeria's Christian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in parts of the north where the "cancerous" (as he put it) Boko Haram killed almost 500 people last year.
"(Boko Haram) started as a harmless group . . . they have now grown cancerous," Mr Jonathan said. "And Nigeria, being the body, they want to kill it. But nobody will allow them to do that."
Besides giving the Christians a 3 day ultimatum, they also threatened soldiers. During a conference call with journalists by Abul Qaqa, a spokesman for Boko Haram, he said
“We find it pertinent to state that soldiers will only kill innocent Muslims in the local government areas where the state of emergency was declared. We would confront them squarely to protect our brothers.”
Speaking in the Hausa language common throughout the north, Qaqa said “we also wish to call on our fellow Muslims to come back to the north because we have evidence that they would be attacked.”
Three days, how generous.
Boko Haram is a Salafi-inspired group that was formed in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, its educated, Mercedes Benz-owning spiritual leader. Killed in 2009 by Nigerian forces, he believed anything western was un-Islamic and therefore haram (forbidden), hence the loosely translated name for Boko Haram: 'Western education is forbidden'. But it wasn't until 2009 that it officially turned into a terrorist group, although that was probably always its hidden agenda. Apparently, Yusuf built a mosque and school with the express goal of training jihadis. He accomplished this by providing an education for poor people throughout Nigeria and surrounding countries. Although the Nigerian government had been forewarned by at least one military official and various Muslim leaders about Boko Haram's aims, nothing was ever done until 2009, and by then it was too late. This is the problem when governments tolerate these types of groups without keeping tabs on them. They start off as seemingly innocent and "harmless" until the 'cancer' metastasizes and spreads. and then you're done for.
But it's not just Christians who have been targeted, they have also attacked other Muslims who don't happen to be as backwards as they. And the Christians have retaliated, and leaders claim that next time around they will defend themselves. These latest round of attacks by Boko Haram, especially the Christmas day bombings, have the country fearing an escalation of violence that could spiral out of control, even more so than it has.
This is a good lesson for us all. Cut out that cancer before it kills us.