At GlobalPost, Heather Murdock explains that, for locals, conflict between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt” is not entirely about religion:

Both Muslims and Christians in Jos are quick to point out that when they clash, it’s not usually about religion or ethnicity. Some locals say the fight began over land and political rights. Others say poverty is at the heart of the conflict. Politicians are blamed for exacerbating the situation by playing people against each other. After years of escalation and retaliation the two communities are now terrified of one another.

It all started over disputes between farmers and nomadic cattle herders who need fields to graze their animals, according to humanitarian worker Aliyu Dawobe Ladduga. The farmers involved in the conflict are generally Christians who are from the Berom, Anaguta and Afizere ethnic groups. The herdsmen are Muslim Fulanis, said Ladduga, who himself comes from a family of Fulani cattle herders.

Ladduga says regular violence emerged in the past decade because the population is growing rapidly and both groups are running out of land.

However, Murdock notes that, coincidentally, the rise of violence overlaps with an era of increased fundamentalism amongst both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria:

The conflict is coupled with a rise in fundamentalism across the country, deepening the separation between the two sides, said Nigerian political scientist Hussaini Abdu. “This is not just about Islam,” he told GlobalPost. “Even among Christians there is this increasing surge of back-to-source fundamentalism.”

Read the full article here.