Boko Haram: The Development of a Militant Religious Movement in Nigeria

Roman Loimeier


Since 2009, the radical Muslim movement in northern Nigeria known as Boko Haram has become widely known in Western media for both its militant actions and its ultra-fundamentalist programme. This analysis examines Boko Haram from a historical perspective, viewing the movement as a result of social, political and generational dynamics within the larger field of northern Nigerian radical Islam. The contribution also considers some of the theological dimensions of the dispute between Boko Haram and its Muslim opponents and presents the different stages of militant activity through which this movement has gone so far. The article shows that movements such as Boko Haram are deeply rooted in northern Nigeria’s specific economic, religious and political development and are thus likely to crop up again if basic frame conditions such as social injustice, corruption and economic mismanagement do not change.

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