This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Not a Time of Peace in Nigeria

For a long time Nigeria has been divided demographically between the largely Muslim north and the largely Christian south. This divide led the predominantly Christian Igbo to leave Nigeria between 1967 and 1970 in the so-called Biafran War (because the Ibgo wanted to set up a separate Republic of Biafra) that was actually a civil war costing the lives of three million Nigerians before the Igbo rejoined the country. Tensions have remained over the years, punctuated most recently by bombings on Christmas Day in which Christians were targeted by Muslims. Reuters reports on the story:
Northern Nigerian Christians said on Tuesday they feared that a spate of Christmas Day bombings by Islamist militants that killed over two dozen people could lead to a religious war in Africa's most populous country.The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia Islamic law across Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the blasts, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian churches.Saidu Dogo, secretary general for the CAN [Christian Association of Nigeria] in Nigeria's 19 northern provinces called on Muslim leaders to control their faithful, saying Christians will be forced to defend themselves against further attacks.
"We fear that the situation may degenerate to a religious war and Nigeria may not be able to survive one. Once again, 'enough is enough!'," Dogo said.
The attacks risk reviving tit-for-tat sectarian violence between the mostly Muslim north and the largely Christian south, which has claimed thousands of lives in the past decade.

You will recall that religion is so sensitive an issue in Nigeria that the question is not asked in the census. Other surveys, however, such as the Demographic and Health Surveys, do ask about religion and help us estimate that the country is still roughly evenly split between Muslims and Christians.

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