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Nigeria Muslims Face Stigma Over Presumed Boko Haram Links

Cameroonian people gather to protest against Islamic extremist attacks in Yaounde, Cameroon, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015.  Some thousands of Cameroonian youths say they marched through the capital to show support for the military's battle against Nigeria's Islamic extremists in the country's north. (AP Photo/Edwin Kindzeka Moki)
Cameroonian people gather to protest against Islamic extremist attacks in Yaounde, Cameroon, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Some thousands of Cameroonian youths say they marched through the capital to show support for the military’s battle against Nigeria’s Islamic extremists in the country’s north. (AP Photo/Edwin Kindzeka Moki)

 

Nigerian Muslims who fled to Cameroon to escape Boko Haram say they are being shunned as suspected sympathizers of the insurgent group. And the suspicions are not only from Cameroonians but Nigerian Christians who do not trust them and refuse to live with them in refugee camps.

French-born Muslim Rashid Abou Houdeyfa preaches peace and tolerance at the central mosque in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde. Among those listening is Nigerian refugee Abdoulaye Diallo, who says he fled his hometown of Dikwa to get away from Boko Haram, but has been persecuted in Cameroon by people who think he is a sympathizer of the Nigerian terrorist group.

He says many people mistakenly think that Islam and Boko Haram are synonymous and do not trust Muslims. He says Boko Haram is not Islam.

But that message is a hard sell in communities victimized by Boko Haram violence, kidnappings and raids that have spilled into Cameroon in the past few years, as the insurgents fight to set up a caliphate in northern Nigeria.

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