Muslims in Nigeria have voiced concern about an apparent increase in religious “profiling” after hundreds of terror-related arrests in the country’s Christian-majority south.
Most were later released.
Elsewhere, 84 apprentices were sent back to Katsina State, also in the north, after being held on suspicion of militant links as they undertook a training course in Imo, southeastern Nigeria.
In January 2012, the police in southeastern Enugu State arrested 25 hunters from northwestern Zamfara state on an annual hunting expedition to the forests, holding them for a month.
Again, they were suspected of Boko Haram links after 19 hunting rifles were found.
The insurgency by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s north is the country’s top security issue, and there are fears in the south that it could spread.
But an apparent rise in suspicions against all Muslims has prompted warnings about splitting the country further along religious and ethnic lines, as well as inter-communal violence.
Solomon Dalung, a law lecturer at the University of Jos in north central Nigeria, said the police and security forces were “profiling… citizens from a particular geo-political region”.
Current events were “taking a pattern of pre-civil war indices”, he added, drawing parallels with the situation before Nigeria’s three-year civil war.
The 1967-70 conflict came after the attempted secession of the mainly Christian Igbo in the southeast and followed religious, ethnic, cultural and economic tensions with northern Hausa Muslims.
Some one million people died in the fighting, mostly from starvation and disease. Mutual suspicions and resentment persist between north and south.