The emergence of radical religious groups has dramatically changed the landscape in Cameroon, paving the way for religious intolerance, says the International Crisis Group (ICG), in a new report.
Unlike its neighboring Nigeria and the Central African Republic, Cameroon has never experienced significant sectarian violence. However, ICG reports, the emergence of radical religious groups risks destabilizing its climate of religious tolerance.
Traditional Sufi Islam is increasingly challenged by the rise of more rigorist Islamic ideology, mostly Wahhabism. The conflict between “ancients” and “moderns’’ is also a matter of economic and political influence, which has already degenerated into localized clashes between Islamic groups.
Within Christian communities, the rise of Revivalist Churches has ended the monopoly of Catholic and Protestant Churches. ICG reports that “born-again pastors often preach religious intolerance, stay away from interreligious dialogue and are kept out of official religious spheres”.
These developments are worrying as both the Central African Republic and Nigeria have had conflicts with religious dimensions: these are affecting Cameroon.
Yet the Cameroonian authorities under-estimate conflict potential, as their attention is focused only on Boko Haram. ICG recommends a coherent and comprehensive strategy, including better understanding of the current changes, support for interreligious dialogue and improving communities’ awareness of the dangers of radicalism.