The Guardian has a chilling report on the growth of radical Islamism in Nigeria:
The men dressed in red turbans and long robes and carrying machine guns and machetes handed out amulets that they said would protect people in the coming fight. They went among the Muslim and Christian residents in the northern Nigerian city of Kano saying they meant no harm; their gripe was solely with the national government for failing to live by the Qur'an.
The next day the hundreds of fighters, who included women and some children, attacked the police headquarters, killing 10 policemen and a divisional commander's wife. The police station was set ablaze, vehicles were burned and prisoners freed.
This incident is just one manifestation of the rise of Nigeria's self-described "Taliban" movement. Yes, the name says it all:
The Nigerian Taliban first emerged five years ago demanding "full sharia" in the 12 states in the north that introduced Islamic law after the end of military rule in 1999. Attacks on symbols of the federal government followed, particularly the police.
The latest assault sent a new wave of fear through Kano's minority Christian community, which lives with one eye on sharia and inter-religious violence that has caused tens of thousands of deaths in recent years with periodic massacres across the country.
Islamist attacks on the Christian areas of Kano have left hundreds dead at a time. In Plateau state, human rights groups have recorded nearly 60,000 religious killings of Muslims and Christians in the past six years. Tens of thousands more have fled their homes.
The article describes the Taliban's unhappiness with the state authorities in northern Nigeria, who in their view aren't enforcing Islamic law strictly enough. As with other Islamist movements, Nigeria's Taliban are the product of radical ideology exported from the Middle East:
The Nigerian Taliban has also attacked what it says is a western plot to "Christianise" Islam after Kano's leaders sought to offset the influence of Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are funding hardline Islamist schools that some fear are educating a generation of extremists. The Emir of Kano is negotiating a deal with the US and Britain to fund schools with a more balanced education.
Finally, please note that the spread of Islamist extremism in Nigeria has nothing to do with the Iraq War:
Sheikh Umar said that while many northern Nigerians are as angry as Muslims elsewhere at events in the Middle East, they have not been radicalised by them: "You can't blame people who see injustice in Afghanistan and Iraq. But here we are more preoccupied with our local issues, fighting corruption and the like."
But extremism is sometimes not far from the surface. Earlier this month, a female teacher in Gombe spotted a student cheating during an exam on Islam and threw his books in the bin. The student, trying to cover up his wrongdoing, told other pupils that Oluwatoyin Oluseesin had desecrated the Qur'an. They beat her to death.
The single most dramatic example of how Islamist radicalism threatens intellectual freedom in Nigeria is the case of Isioma Daniel. When Islamists objected to Nigeria's hosting the 2002 Miss World pageant, Ms. Daniel wrote a column for a Nigerian newspaper in which she said "(w)hat would Mohammed think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from one of them." In response, Islamists started riots that claimed the lives of over 200 people, while the government of the Nigerian state of Zamfara issued a fatwa calling for Ms. Daniel's murder. She has been forced to move into exile.
Nigeria's Taliban are just one example of how radical Islamism has been exported throughout the Muslim world, and to immigrant Muslim communities in the West. Wherever they are, Islamist movements use violence and intimidation to silence their critics and censor literature and art they find offensive. The worldwide spread of this totalitarian ideology represents a far greater threat to intellectual freedom than anything contained in the Patriot Act.