Boko Haram an Increasing Threat for Nigerian Christians

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Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group, has been attacking Nigerian Christians. On Christmas Day, 40 people were killed in attacks on churches across the country of Nigeria, as reported at BBC. Said the head of the Nigerian Christian Association of Nigeria, "The consensus is that the Christian community nationwide will be left with no other option than to respond appropriately if there are any further attacks on our members, churches and property." It was the second Christmas time attack for the group who last year, on Christmas Eve, killed 35 individuals, as reported at The Blaze.

What are some of the key points of the group many call the Nigerian Taliban?

* Boko Haram, founded in 2002, means "Western education is forbidden." The goal is to impose strict Sharia law in Nigeria. Sharia law is another name for Islamic law. It is "the 'path that must be followed by a Muslim,' and advises all aspects of Muslim life including finances and family life," as reported at Global Post.

* The northern half of Nigeria is Muslim while the southern half is Christian. The southern half boasts of economic development and resources in sharp contrast to the poverty and lack of resources in the north, as reported at Right Side News.

* Boko Haram originated from the radical preacher Mohammed Yusuf, as reported at International Crisis Group. Starting in Maiduguri, a poor region of Nigeria and the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, Yusuf's message took hold among poor, unemployed and disenfranchised youth. After Yusuf was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009, members of Boko Haram have vowed revenge for the death of their leader.

* Churches were not the primary target of the radical Boko Haram. The group set their sights on representatives of state and federal governments, such as politicians and police officers, as reported at the Council on Foreign Relations.

* Said journalist David Francis, at the International Reporting Project, "Despite Boko Haram's own proclamations, few in Nigeria believe the group's sole motivation is religion." According to Francis, many believe the group is seeking a "government payout."

* There are concerns that Boko Haram has direct or indirect ties with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, operating across the Sahara Desert in Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Mali and Niger. As a result, the Nigerian government is working closely with Washington to keep an eye on the growth, as reported at International Crisis Group.

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