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Nigerian majority doesn't back Boko Haram views, poll finds

February 20, 2012 | 11:03 am


The majority of Nigerians do not back the views of Boko Haram, a militant group that has carried out deadly attacks in an attempt to impose Islamic law in the country's north, according to results of a Gallup poll released this week.

Gallup did face-to-face interviews with 1,000 people in Nigeria ages 15 and older in April 2010 and August 2011. It found that nearly six out of 10 Nigerians interviewed believe that more interaction with the West is beneficial, rather than threatening, counter to what Boko Haram argues.

Roughly half the people surveyed said Islamic religious principles should not be a source of Nigerian law, while 37% said they should be one of its sources and 13% said Islam should be the only source.

"Support for establishing a state relying only on Islamic religious principles is relatively low, which is unsurprising considering Nigeria's complex legal heritage and ethno-religious diversity," senior analyst Magali Rheault and regional research director Bob Tortora wrote on the Gallup blog.

But the poll also underscored the gulf between attitudes in different regions of Nigeria. Northern stretches of Nigeria, where Muslims are in the majority, suffer from mass unemployment and a sense of alienation from the south, making them a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram, The Times’ Robyn Dixon wrote last week. In a reflection of those problems, Gallup found Northerners were less likely to approve of their government.

Pollsters also found that Northerners were much more likely to say that Islamic religious principles should be a source of Nigerian law. However, most still didn't believe that Islam should be the only source.

Boko Haram has been blamed for killing at least 289 people this year, according to the Associated Press. Violence continued Monday in Nigeria when a bomb exploded outside a church, wounding five people. Though no one immediately claimed responsibility, Boko Haram has targeted the area in the past.


Nigeria stunned by Kano attacks that killed more than 150

Islamic rebel group claims responsibility for Nigerian prison break

Nigeria attacks may point to more emboldened Boko Haram militants

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Members of the St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, dig graves for 20 victims of a  Christmas Day bombing believed to be the work of the militant group Boko Haram. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency