Indeed it wasn’t, on many levels. As with the rampages in Afghanistan and Pakistan that used the Qur’an burning in Florida as a pretext (which, ironically, wound up burning untold numbers of Qur’ans in the process), the inclination toward violence was already there, waiting for another excuse to make a show of force and abuse non-Muslims. And as with those “protests,” we have seen that even the flimsiest of pretexts will do. If it is not one excuse du jour, it might be the next day’s “provocation” or “humiliation.”
These incidents would not happen — and would not keep happening — if not for an able and willing populace, and pre-existing hatred and intolerance of non-Muslims.
Here, of course, there is another angle. It is quite reasonable for President Jonathan to surmise that many Muslims in the north were poised and ready to let loose once the votes were counted. The election results show the Muslim candidate didn’t stand a chance, but that didn’t matter: if the Muslims could win the election, Islamic law could advance that way. If they lost, they would attempt to advance Islamic law the old fashioned way, demanding concessions through violence and threats.
“Nigeria election: President Goodluck Jonathan accuses,” from BBC News, April 21:
The BBC’s Abdullahi Kaura Abubakar in Kaduna: “Political violence soon turned into a religious issue”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the violence in the country that followed his re-election “was not a spontaneous reaction”.
Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes because of the violence, says the Red Cross.
“I don’t want to accuse anybody but we believe that people must be behind this,” Mr Jonathan told CNN.
Poll runner-up Muhammadu Buhari denies instigating the “sad, unfortunate and totally unwarranted” events.
Nigeria is divided by rivalry between the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south, which also have cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences – so much so that the presidency has often alternated between people who come from each of the two halves of the country, in an attempt to keep the peace.
Riots broke out in the north after Mr Jonathan, a southerner, emerged as the winner of the presidential poll. A civil rights group says the unrest has left more than 200 dead, while hundreds of arrests have been made.
Gen Buhari has said the Nigerian election commission’s computers were programmed to disadvantage his party in some parts of Nigeria.
But he urged his supporters to refrain from attacks, saying: “It is wrong for you to allow miscreants to infiltrate your ranks and perpetrate such dastardly acts as the mindless destruction of worship places.
“Needless to say, this act is worse than the rigging of the elections.”
Umar Marigar of the Red Cross told the BBC on Wednesday that the number of displaced people had trebled in the last day – from 16,000 to 48,000, mainly in the north.
But he said that, in the southern state of Anambra, 8,400 people had sought refuge at the Onitsha military barracks because they feared reprisal attacks against northerners.
He added: ”The violent protests turn from political into ethno-religious crisis. As such, people might like to engage in retaliatory attacks. This is what we are always afraid of.” […]
Mr Jonathan was declared winner of Saturday’s presidential poll, with the electoral commission saying he received about 57% of the vote with 22.5 million votes to General Buhari’s 12.2 million votes.
International observers have said the election was reasonably free and fair.