Boko Haram, a jihadist group, began forming in Nigeria and other parts of Africa as early as 2008. By 2013, the Boko Haram moved against the Nigerian government, mostly in an attempt to spread Sharia law to all 36 states of Nigeria. Of the 36 states, 12 are Sunni Muslim, and practice Sharia law, a very specific interpretation of the law based on the Quran. The original movement by the Boko Haram was to ensure that all states became Muslim states, and to remove the President of Nigeria, who was a “false” Muslim in their eyes.Prior to the Boko Haram insurgency, 50% of the population of Nigeria was Muslim (in the northern areas), and about 49% was Christian (in the southern areas). By 2015, it was estimated that 15,000 Nigerian, Chad, and Niger citizens and soldiers were killed in the battles. It is also estimated that nearly 1 million people have been displaced.
Boko Haram Poses a Human Rights Threat
Many world powers are concerned with the situation in Nigeria, due to Boko Haram’s enforcement of jihad law. Essentially, they punish non-Muslims with capital punishment, or force people to change religions upon threat of death. Because of this, many people flee the country but are caught by Boko Haram militia, tortured, raped, or killed. Boko Haram also captures and tortures the Nigerian soldiers who stand against them, and many convoys have been sent to retrieve and release individuals captured as prisoners of war. Boko Haram is most notorious for their treatment of women and children. In late 2014, 200 schoolgirls went missing from a non-Muslim school, and the Nigerian people immediately launched a campaign for their return. However, the militants declared that the girls would be used as sex slaves, and then sold to others. Under Sharia law, the Boko Haram claim, any non-Muslim women are property to be gained during times of war and can be traded and treated as such. The Boko Haram also uses child soldiers, stemming from its start in a Muslim school. “Haram” means that the group wants nothing to do with the West, so many Muslim schools popped up in the late 1990s and early 2000s that promoted jihadist teachings. From these schools stemmed the first of the Boko’s child soldiers, and as they continue to gain speed many child soldiers are trained and recruited. Amnesty International has sought aid from large world powers to help with this situation, and a lot of humanitarian aid has been given.
How Nigeria is Connected to ISIS
In 2015, Boko Haram pledged its loyalty to ISIS. This means that the international reach of ISIS has increased greatly, and the spread of its belief system is continuing through Africa, which houses a very large Muslim population. While it is believed that Boko Haram has retreated from Nigeria, having been pushed out by Chad, Nigeria, and Niger forces in March of 2015, many believe the jihadists will find a way to team up with ISIS in other places around the world. As ISIS becomes more of a threat, the risk that up to 9,000 Boko Haram members have joined ISIS’s movement is quite scary.