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Africa

Cameroon Muslims urged to guard against extremism

Cameroon's Muslim leaders were invited to the capital Yaounde for a briefing on 'Islamic State' (IS) ideology. IS affiliate Boko Haram is devoting more effort to spreading its extremist message.

At a meeting that began and ended with prayers, some 300 Cameroonian Muslim clerics gathered for a workshop on how to face up to the ideological threat from the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the IS militant organization.

Cavaye Yegue Djibril, who is both the speaker of Cameroon's national assembly and the traditional and Muslim leader of the town of Mada on the Nigerian border, urged Cameroonians to be vigilant. He also said that "whoever collaborates with the IS or any form of extremism" should be aware of the unity of the Cameroonian people.

Boko Haram pledged allegiance to IS in March 2015.

IS controls vast areas of Iraq and Syria. Its mass recruitment of western Islamic radicals is considered one of the greatest security threats faced by Europe and the United States.

According to the news agency AP, IS promises Western recruits whatever they are looking for: Shariah law, a deeper purpose in life, a fight against a dictator, aid work, automatic weapons and pathological violence for those so inclined.

Cameroon's Muslim leaders say that some young, unemployed Cameroonians have fallen victim to Boko Haram's ideology and the clerics fear the radicalized youth might turn violent.

Boko Haram aims to create an Islamic caliphate in the territories its controls.

Identifying IS supporters

The workshop in Yaounde was organized by the Union of African Muslim (UAM) scholars and Cameroon's Islamic Cultural Association (ICA).

The two organizations say they have been educating local Muslims about IS since Boko Haram's pledge of allegiance to the group .

Nordkamerun Grenze zu Nigeria Soldaten Anti Terror

Cameroon is one of several countries to have been hit by the insurgency in neighboring Nigeria

Chieck Nsangou of the UAM say Cameroonian Muslims can identify IS supporters as "people who say they want to implement Sharia law at all cost and by all means and who are very sensitive about issues that are not important."

Moussa Oumarou of the ICA said Cameroonians should be wary of psychological warfare erupting between Cameroon's Islamic groups, Sunnis and Shi'ites. He believes Boko Haram intends to foster hardline elements within these groups in order to destabilize Cameroon.

"Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims in Cameroon, but they are also Shi'ites and there is no objective reason to exclude them because they are part of the bigger Islam family," he said.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari announced this week he plans to visit Cameroon to discuss an anti-Boko Haram regional fighting force.

Nigeria, backed by its neighbor Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has driven Boko Haram out of many of the positions it previously held.

The six-year insurgency has claimed at least 15,000 lives.

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