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Sunni-Shia divide: No immediate risk of sectarian war in Africa, says analyst

Sunni-Shia divide: No immediate risk of sectarian war in Africa, says analyst


The battle between two of Islam’s main sects, Sunnis and Shia continues to escalate with the latest row between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has severed diplomatic ties with Iran following protests in Tehran that led to the destruction of Saudi’s Embassy. These protests were as a result of the Saudi government executing a prominent Shia Muslim cleric.

With the sectarian strife rising and a number of countries allied to Saudi Arabia joining diplomatic action against Iran, there are fears that the war between two sects may spread.

Sectarian war in Africa

However, according to Issa Souhaibou, a professor at Maroua University in Cameroon, chances of a Sectarian war building up in Africa are slim.

He says that the main threat in terms of religious conflict in the continent is posed by Islamist groups such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab.

Still, Souhaibou is calling for vigilance among people in Africa to be aware of emerging risks arising from other home grown militants.

Sunnis, Shia background

Majority of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are Sunni. They live across the Arab world, as well as in countries like Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Despite these two sectarian factions sharing many fundamental beliefs and practices, there distinction lie in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organisation.

The split between the two emanated from a dispute soon after the death of Prophet Muhammad over who should lead the Muslim community.