Nigeria’s fragile democracy is under fire. Nigerian Islamists in the highly religious Islamic north of the country have been targeting a marginal non-profit organization of secularists, the Humanist Society of Northern Nigeria (HSNN). The problem is worth examining.
Since the return of democracy to the largest African country in 1999, freedom of speech has been expressed mostly on social media. Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of internet users in Africa — about 91 million. Yet, as is the case across the globe, the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others are a double-edged sword. They are used for a disseminating information, but also for spreading disinformation and lies, as well as for recruiting fighters to the Boko Haram terrorist group, based mainly in Northern Nigeria, and responsible for the bulk of the suicide bombings and other mass murders committed in Africa.
To understand the significance of HSNN, one must grasp that 18 years ago, with the introduction of multiparty elections in Nigeria, most of the northern states used the ballot box to choose a system of Sharia (Islamic religious law).
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