Boko Haram is a militant group primarily located in Nigeria. The terrorist organization is fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state.
Nigeria is a very religious country with Christianity and Islamic faith being its most predominant religions and having a nearly-equal ratio split between them.
According to Heidi Schultz, an author on National Geographic News, “Boko Haram aims to make northern Nigeria an Islamic state.” This is ironic because the majority of people in northern Nigeria are already Muslim.
BBC News provides a good reason as to why Boko Haram does what they do. According to BBC News, “Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it…forbidden…for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society.”
And considering the fact that Nigeria was colonized by Britain in 1906, a lot of their activities are Western-based. For instance, even though Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba are major languages in the country, English is still considered Nigeria’s official language.
But even with all this information, the question still remains. “Why Nigeria specifically?” Well, according to Guy Birchall, a journalist at The Sun, Boko Haram “believe[s]…Nigeria is run by infidels even when the country elects Muslim presidents.”
Due to the fact that Nigeria is a very religious country, atheism is considered a taboo there with about 10% of the Nigerian population being atheists, according to Nations Encyclopedia.
Since the majority of people in Nigeria are already Muslim, there is no reason for Boko Haram to attack Nigeria. Not only that but forcing religious beliefs on a group of individuals takes away their right and entitlement to freedom of belief.
However, there might be another reason as to why Boko Haram chose Nigeria as their base of attacks. Since Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country, the terrorist group might have chosen Nigeria specifically since there are more people to convert to Islam.
After all, even though Islam (Sunni Islam to be exact) is the most practiced religion in Nigeria, that doesn’t change the fact that a good half of Nigeria’s population are Christians and a fairly decent minority of Nigeria’s population are atheists, giving Boko Haram about 40-50% of people to convert to their preferred faith.
Additionally, since Nigeria has the largest African population, looking at it from a terrorist’s perspective, that gives Boko Haram more “toys” to play with.
But even with all the reasons for Boko Haram’s attacks and in Nigeria specifically, none of that justifies their attacks. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs respectively, including atheists.
A person should never impose their religious beliefs on another individual because then that individual who is being forced to engage in a particular faith may be compromising their own faith or beliefs.