Dynamics of Religious Fundamentalism: A Survey of Boko Haram Insurgency in Northern Nigeria

Mashood Omotosho


A curious feature of Nigeria is religious intolerance, especially in the Northern and the Middle Belt regions of the country. Religious fundamentalism in the Northern part of Nigeria has been hidebound and its spread is unbridled. For over two years, cities like Maiduguri, Bauchi, Damaturu and Gombe  has worn a cloak of fear due to the Boko Haram insurgencies. Religious violence has been unleashed on many innocent citizens of this country. There is palpable apprehension among the citizens due to the Boko Haram insurgencies in the different parts of the Northern region. Although it has led to huge loss of lives, destruction of property and untold human misery, governments, policy makers and the political class do not seem to give the challenge the attention that it deserves. Boko Haram literarily means “Western Education is sinful” or "Education is forbidden".   Exploring in some depth the religious fundamentalism and the Boko Haram violence, we find unexpected dynamics in the approach and targets of the Boko Haram sect as well as the culture of denying difference, rigid thinking and a defensive spirituality. While scholarly interest in the crises has increased in recent times, there is need to undertake rigorous empirical analysis of the phenomenon to unravel the political intrigues behind the perennial religious upheavals in the country.  Therefore this paper will basically look at the factors behind religious fundamentalism in Northern Nigeria and examine its impact on the harmonious existence of different religious sects in the country. We shall do this by first looking at the emergence of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. When that is done, we shall address the psychodynamics of religious fundamentalism vis-à-vis Boko Haram attacks on government agencies and machineries. This development is considerable and topical, for it is part of the pattern of mayhem and pogrom and spiritual revolutions that is sweeping across Northern Nigeria.

Keywords: Religion, Fundamentalism, Boko Haram, Violence, Dynamics, Spirituality

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