Last week, I criticized a front-page Wall Street Journal profile of a Nigerian terror group leader. The otherwise enlightening report missed a key element in the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls — the Christian faith of the vast majority of them.
This week, the same Journal correspondent covered the bombings that killed more than 100 people in that West African nation and absolutely nailed the religion angle.
This praiseworthy breaking news report gets right to the point:
ABUJA, Nigeria — Three bombs struck the crowded city of Jos in quick succession on Tuesday, aid workers said, killing at least 118 people and putting one of Africa’s most religiously divided cities back on edge.
Religiously divided how? Read on, and the Journal explains in great detail.
Like the Journal, the New York Times highlights the Christian-Muslim tensions in Jos. But while the Times simply references the tensions, the Journal provides context and depth to help readers understand the religious factors at play.
Just one revealing section of the Journal’s story:
The wave of bombings poses a test for the religiously fraught city. Streets emptied in the hours after the blast, with both Muslims and Christians bracing themselves for another religious riot.
There have been many here. Riots in 2001 killed nearly 1,000 people, before roughly 700 more died in a similar round of clashes in 2008, followed by 2010 riots that left about 200 dead.
Now, Boko Haram appears to be tapping into the deep reservoir of religious hatred here. The group bombed a market in Jos on Christmas Eve in 2010, and set off three church bombs in 2012.
“The wider implication is the potential for it to destabilize the city and put it back into rioting again,” said Adam Higazi, a Cambridge University Nigeria researcher who lived in Jos until recently. “They’re trying to destabilize Jos again and spark more religious violence.”
Nigeria has been beset by longstanding grievances between its Christian south and Muslim north. The country has had a Muslim president for just three of its past 15 years of democracy, and many Muslims here say they believe Christian politicians have ruled for too long. Far from the halls of power, Nigerians in the countryside — especially outside Jos — clash over farmland, too. Herdsman — almost all of them Muslims—frequently battle with farmers, largely Christians, who blame free-range cattle for trampling their crops.
Across the north, meanwhile, many Muslims insist Shariah law is the remedy to rampant corruption that has kept this country mired in poverty. Many Christians see Shariah as an unconstitutional imposition on a religiously mixed country.
No ghosts in this story.
Impressive reporting, Wall Street Journal.