20 January 2016

Cameroon: Christians and Muslims Unite Against Boko Haram

After three years of continued attacks by Boko Haram in their attempt to create an Islamic state, Muslims and Christians in Cameroon are now joining forces to protect each other.

Hundreds of Muslims gather each Friday for prayers at the central mosque in Mozogo near the border to Nigeria. In order to protect worshippers and the mosques from attack, the Muslim community has formed vigilante groups. But this means that those protecting the mosque would not be able to enter the building and pray, something that is required by their religion.

So the Muslim community has teamed up with Christian organizations to help protect each other. Joseph Klofou of the Protestant Church of Cameroon said that his church decided with members of self defense groups to guard mosques so believers do not have to miss their religious obligations.

"I feel frustrated seeing my brothers and sisters dying. I must act while praying to God to send his angels and warriors to fight Boko Haram because he is the merciful God of armies," said Klofou.

Djafarou Alamine of the central mosques said that they also stand guard in front of churches when Christians pray.

"I am out to fight because Boko Haram is a group of bad people. Islam condemns all that they have been doing to both Christians and Muslims who are all God's creatures even though they have religious differences," said Alamine.

Hand in hand

Cameroon Christians and Muslims are uniting in the fight against the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram that has been attacking the central African nation in what it said were plans to create an Islamist state.

On Monday, a young suicide bomber detonated explosives at a mosque in Guetchewe, a town near Cameroon's border with Nigeria, killing five people. This happened only five days after another suicide attack which killed 12 at a mosque in the town of Kouyape.

Cameroon's population of over 23 million people is 40 percent Christian, 20 percent Muslim with 40 percent holding indigenous beliefs.

Midjiyawa Bakari is the governor of Cameroon's Far North region. He has congratulated Christians and Muslims for working together against a common enemy.

"We have applauded this initiative in which Muslims stand guard over Churches and Christians stand guard over mosques. We condemn the actions of Boko Haram and ask Cameroonians to all fight them," said Bakari. "And we extend our condolences to families that lost their loved ones."

Common enemy

Boko Haram has been looting, killing, burning schools, markets and churches in Cameroon. In December 2015, the group said it was attacking Cameroon in order to create an Islamic state.

Cameroon's minister of communication and government spokesperson, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, congratulated Christians and Muslims for jointly defending the country.

"Cameroon is a country where priests and imams both go to churches and mosques to preach and pray during ecumenical services. It is a treasure to keep," said Bakary.

Bakary told reporters that Boko Haram has staged 315 raids in the border region since 2013 and carried out 32 suicide bombings.

"In total, 1,098 civilians, 67 of our soldiers and three police officials have been killed in these barbaric attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group," Bakary said.


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