Expert on Nigeria discusses recent religious violence with House committee
Associate Professor Darren Kew testified Tuesday before the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee on the recent spate of religious violence in Nigeria.
Kew, who teaches in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at UMass Boston, was one of five experts who testified at the hearing on Capitol Hill. (See the video here.) The professor spoke to members of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, chaired by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, Republican of New Jersey.
Nigeria’s 150 million residents are split almost evenly between Christians and Muslims, a divide that has prompted widespread distrust and outbreaks of violence, Kew told the committee. Nigeria’s current president is Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the southern part of the country; his 2011 election victory over a northern Muslim candidate was a source of great conflict there.
Though some have tried to paint these Christian-Muslim tensions as a broad religious contest, Kew said the reality is more complex. In some local conflicts, the religious divide is merely a backdrop to larger disputes on different topics. The United States should continue to support religious understanding and better governance in Nigeria, Kew said, while making clear that it will not take sides in a religious conflict.