Nigeria’s Enduring Fault Line

Nigeria’s Enduring Fault Line

It would be simple to lay the blame for last week's riots in Jos, Nigeria, at the doorstep of ethno-religious rivalries. This line of analysis always makes sense to outside observers and conforms to the meta-narrative of the "clash of civilizations." But in Nigeria, nothing is ever that simple.

In a move designed to shift the blame for the riots, Hon. Jonah Jang, the governor of Plateau State (where Jos is located), has been issuing statements to the effect that subversive elements from neighboring Chad and Niger were the main perpetrators of last week's violence, which killed almost 500 people and displaced thousands. The allegations, rejected by the central government in Abuja, contradict the generally accepted explanation that election irregularities and unresolved social and economic contradictions were the culprit.

This is not the first time that this picturesque city lying along the "middle-belt" of Nigeria, along the ethno-religious fault line between the Muslim north and the Christian south, has witnessed this kind of violence. In 2001, hundreds died and thousands were displaced after what began as a street-level confrontation between a Christian woman and a Muslim man -- who objected to her walking around his neighborhood on a prayer day -- escalated into bands of Christian and Islamic youth roaming the streets and engaging in indiscriminate beatings, burning and looting.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article as well as three free articles per month. You'll also receive our free email newsletter to stay up to date on all our coverage:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having your own personal researcher and analyst for news and events around the globe. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 15,000+ articles
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday
  • Weekly in-depth reports on important issues and countries
  • Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors
  • Your choice of weekly region-specific newsletters, delivered to your inbox.
  • Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review