Cameroon in the Shadow of Boko Haram, Gulf Powers and Sudan: Christian, Islamist and Sufi Strains

Cameroon in the Shadow of Boko Haram, Gulf Powers and Sudan: Christian, Islamist and Sufi Strains

Paul Joseph Nzeribe, Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The Central African Republic was torn apart when new Islamist strains from outside nations like Chad and Sudan impacted on the delicate balance between Christians and Muslims. Similarly, the nation of Cameroon is reaching a new religious crossroads because of increasing terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, the indoctrination of indigenous Muslims based on the intrigues of various Sunni Islamist forces, the weakening of Sufi Islam, and the growing rise of Christian fundamentalism that fears the changing religious landscape. Therefore, political elites in Cameroon must curtail the importance of Gulf petrodollars. After all, religious and educational institutions in the Gulf and Sudan are indoctrinating indigenous Sufi Muslims to militant Islam – alongside the growing awareness of the Arabic language.

In neighboring Nigeria the bloodthirsty Boko Haram is killing based on their Sunni Takfiri Islamist worldview. Not surprisingly, Boko Haram lauds ISIS (Islamic State – IS) because this barbaric jihadi terrorist group is slaughtering on a daily basis. This especially applies to Iraq and Syria but more recently ISIS is also butchering in Libya and Yemen. Therefore, the government of Cameroon is increasingly worried by the threat of Boko Haram and the emerging reality of Salafi Islam.

The International Crisis Group reports: Traditional Sufi Islam is increasingly challenged by the rise of more rigorist Islamic ideology, mostly Wahhabism. The current transformation is mainly promoted by young Cameroonian Muslims from the South, whereas the Sufi Islam of the North, dominated by the Fulani, seems on the decline. These southern youths speak Arabic, are often educated in Sudan and the Gulf countries, and are opposed both to Fulani control of the Muslim community and to the ageing religious establishment. Disagreements between Sufi leaders, traditional spiritual leaders and these newcomers are not only theological: the conflict between “ancients” and “moderns” is also a matter of economic and political influence within the Muslim community.”

Cameroon, just like powerful nations in East Africa that includes Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, must wake up to the menace of Sunni Islamic militancy emanating from Gulf nations and the Khartoum based government in Sudan. After all, the one commonality of Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, ISIS, Nusra, and other militant Sunni Islamist forces, is that their Takfiri Islamist worldview means that all other Muslims are deemed apostates. At the same time, Al-Shabaab kills all converts to Christianity from Islam, while ISIS either enslaves captured Christians or they enforce dhimmitude on indigenous Christians. Either way, it is clear that this Takfiri Islamist mindset is based on Gulf Islamist concepts therefore the wealth generated by Gulf petrodollars is enabling this menace to grow far and wide.

The role of Sudan in murky Arabized Islamist militancy is another major concern. After all, in the past various Khartoum governments were accountable for a brutal civil war against the mainly Animist and Christian south. Similarly, indigenous black African Muslims in Darfur and Nuba (in Nuba people represent various faiths) face Arabization and the eradication of their culture. This brutal reality means that Cameroon Muslims studying and working in Sudan are open to new Islamist strains that deny indigenous Islam that is fused with various local customs.

In Libya and Somalia the rise of various Takfiri Islamist forces bodes ill for indigenous Sufi Islam. Indeed, the al-Shabaab in Somalia often destroys and attacks Sufi shrines. At the same time, all converts to Christianity face death in this land whereby a full Islamist inquisition is in full swing. Likewise, Sufi shrines in Libya have been bulldozed since Gulf and NATO powers handed this nation over to various Islamist militias. Also, in recent times ISIS is gradually growing in Libya and this reality means that various beheading massacres have take place against innocent Christians.

The fear in Cameroon is that Boko Haram, the murky role of Sudan, and other Islamist indoctrination strains from the Gulf, will undermine Sufi indigenous Islam based on various external factors. If this happens, then in time growing tensions will emerge with Christians along with powerful Muslim divisions whereby Sufi Islam is attacked by new Islamist forces.

Earlier this year The Independent reported “Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden”, has killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds as it attempts to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. It has also begun targeting neighbouring Cameroon over the last year: on New Year’s Day, suspected Boko Haram militants killed at least 15 people in northern Cameroon.”

At the moment, Cameroon isn’t the Central African Republic (Christian and Muslim bloodletting), northeastern Nigeria, Somalia or Sudan. However, it is clear that religious tensions will increase within Islam itself – and possibly between Christian and Muslims – if the government doesn’t change course. Therefore, Cameroon needs to boost indigenous Sufi Islam and pave the way for closer ties between Christians and Muslims. At the same time, Cameroon must take note of the role of Sudan and the reality of educational and religious facilities emanating from the Gulf.


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