The majority of Nigerian Mulsims do not back the views of Boko Haram, a militant group that has carried out deadly attacks in an attempt to impose Islamic law in the country's north, according to results of a Gallup poll released this week.
Gallup did face-to-face interviews with 1,000 people in Nigeria ages 15 and older in April 2010 and August 2011. It found that nearly six out of 10 Nigerians interviewed believe that more interaction with the West is beneficial, rather than threatening, counter to what Boko Haram argues.
Roughly half the people surveyed said Islamic religious principles should not be a source of Nigerian law, while 37% said they should be one of its sources and 13% said Islam should be the only source.
"Support for establishing a state relying only on Islamic religious principles is relatively low, which is unsurprising considering Nigeria's complex legal heritage and ethno-religious diversity," senior analyst Magali Rheault and regional research director Bob Tortora wrote on the Gallup blog.
But the poll also underscored the gulf between attitudes in different regions of Nigeria. Northern stretches of Nigeria, where Muslims are in the majority, suffer from mass unemployment and a sense of alienation from the south, making them a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram, The Times' Robyn Dixon wrote last week. In a reflection of those problems, Gallup found Northerners were less likely to approve of their government.
Pollsters also found that Northerners were much more likely to say that Islamic religious principles should be a source of Nigerian law. However, most still didn't believe that Islam should be the only source.
Boko Haram has been blamed for killing at least 289 people this year, according to the Associated Press. Violence continued Monday in Nigeria when a bomb exploded outside a church, wounding five people. Though no one immediately claimed responsibility, Boko Haram has targeted the area in the past.
Meanwhile, Muslim scholars in Northern Nigeria have been mobilizing in condemning Boko Haram and pressurizing the government to do something about it. The Coalition of Muslim Clerics in Nigeria (CMCN) has appealed to the northern state governments to face the reality and stop pretending that Boko Haram was a faceless group.
The Islamic religious scholars have also called on members of the Boko Haram sect to disarm, embrace peace and leverage on President Goodluck Jonathan's offer to dialogue with them to end the current security challenges in the country.
This was contained in a communiquÃ© issued after its inaugural meeting held in Kaduna on Saturday, jointly signed by its coordinator, Dr. Ramalam Muhammad and secretary, Alhaji Sadeeq Abdulaziz.
"Nigerian majority doesn't back Boko Haram views, poll finds" Los Angeles Times February 20, 2012
"Muslim Clerics Charge Northern Governors Over Boko Haram" Leadership February 20, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today