Religious freedom prevails according to the constitution and is generally respected. An overwhelming majority of Nigerians are Muslims. Christianity, Bahai and traditional African religions are also practiced but only to a small extent.
Of the Muslims, 95 percent are Sunni Muslims and 5 percent are Shia Muslims. Sufism (Islamic mysticism) is widespread; most Muslims belong to one of the four Sufis fraternities in the country. Especially important is the Tidjania Order. Many have retained the element of popular belief in their religious practice. For example, the Tuaregan religion is a mixture of Sunni Islam and older traditions that include fertility rites and sacred worship.
Since 2000, Islamists have demanded the introduction of Muslim law, sharia, into the justice system. Violent protests against Western culture have taken place and Muslim leaders have been accused of revolting against the United States and other Western countries. Several Islamist organizations have been banned. In recent years, the Islamist movement Boko Haram, based in Nigeria, has won supporters in the border region between the countries. In other parts of the country too, radical Islam has gained ground. There, the support for democracy is weaker than in the cities and local imams’ message of a social order based on Islam gets easier attachment. However, the majority of Nigerians are moderate Muslims.
Christians make up less than two percent of the population. Most are French or immigrants from neighboring countries. The few thousand individuals who profess to the world religion bahai (who ultimately wants to bridge all conflicts between peoples, religions and social systems) live primarily in the capital Niamey and west of it along the border with Burkina Faso.
Niger is a multiethnic state with great cultural differences. The largest ethnic group is the Hausa with around 54% of the population, Djerma with 22% and Longai. Hausa is spoken by three quarters of the population and is used as a lingua franca and trade.
The Fulbe live mainly in the Sahel, the Tuareg in the Sahara.
The Berber people of the Tuareg have a reputation as a warrior people and a people of robber barons through the travelogues of research and trade travelers from the 19th century. The Turareg are known as “knights of the desert” who live from the caravan trade.
The Tuareg wear a famous costume, of which the men’s face veil is particularly striking. Your language Tamaschagh is a Berber language with its own script. The Tuareg society is originally structured in a strictly hierarchical manner, with the aristocratic warrior caste at the top. Tuareg are Muslim.
Today around 1 million Tuareg live in the Sahara and Sahel regions. Many of them have now adapted to modern society and taken up professions in industry and craft. However, many fear for their cultural independence. Every year the Tuareg traditionally lead a salt caravan 400 km through the sandy desert of Ténéré.
In Niger, Arabs, Tubu and Europeans live as minorities. The official language is French. Despite compulsory schooling, Niger has an illiteracy rate of 72%. 80% of the Nigerians belong to Islam, 10 to 15% to the natural religions.
Niger has a low population density and is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa. Most of the people live in the fertile areas of the southwest.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Niger, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
Niger receives EU praise for reduced migrant flows
Niger is praised by the EU for its efforts to reduce the migrant flow from Africa to Europe. According to the European Commission, Niger has reduced the number of migrants through the country from 70,000 in May 2016 to 1,500 in October of the same year. A large proportion of the West Africans who apply to the EU usually travel through Niger on their way to Libya, where smugglers ship them across the Mediterranean. According to the EU, the Nigerian authorities have also helped to bring back 4,430 migrants to their home countries.
Local selection is postponed
The government announces that the local elections scheduled for January 8, 2017 must take place at a later date for the authorities to be able to finalize a system for dotting voters by biometric means, ie by registering their fingerprints. This is the fourth time that the day for local elections has changed and the opposition is accusing the government of wanting to postpone them indefinitely.
German military base will be built
Germany will build a military base in Niger to support the UN force in neighboring Mali. According to Germany’s ambassador to Niger, the Germans should play a more active role in the Sahel region and help fight terrorism there. The US and France already have bases in Niger for the same purpose.
Seven Amadou Trogna are released
Seven opposition politicians with ties to former President Hama Amadou are released from prison where they have been sitting since November 2015. Amadou, who came second in the March 2016 presidential election, is in Paris for hospital care.
New rebel group formed in the northeast
A new armed group, called the Justice and Restoration Movement in Niger (MJLN), threatens attacks unless the government takes action against foreign oil companies, whose operations destroy local land according to the rebels. The MJLN also demands that the toubou people group in northeastern Niger receive better education, food and health care.
Boko Haram attacks refugee camps
17th of June
Seven military police officers are killed when Boko Haram attacks a camp where people have fled the Islamist terrorist group.
Dozens of soldiers are killed by Boko Haram
More than 30 Nigerian soldiers are killed in a battle with the Islamist extremist movement Boko Haram near the Nigeria border, the Nigerian Defense Ministry said.
Opposition cancels boycott
The opposition cancels the boycott of the work of Parliament and the Election Commission. The justification states that the National Assembly cannot just be “an echo” of the government’s decision.
New government takes office
President Issoufou forms a new government with 40 ministers from his party PNDS and its allies. Tuaregen Brigi Rafini remains on the Prime Minister’s post, which he has held since 2011.
Amadou is released to the bail
Opposition leader Hama Amadou is released from custody of the bail. Amadou, who is in Paris for hospital care, is charged with involvement in human trafficking in infants.
Issoufou given election victory
In the second round of the presidential election, President Issoufou gets 92.5 percent of the vote, announces the election commission, which states the turnout to 56 percent. The opposition, which called for a boycott, claims that only 11 percent of voters participated in the election. Opposition candidate Amadou, who was detained during the electoral movement, is on election day in Paris for medical care. A spokesman for the opposition says Niger from April 2, when Issoufou’s current term expires, will no longer have a legitimate president.
The opposition boycott the second round of the presidential election
The opposition calls on Nigerians to boycott the second round of the presidential election and calls on its representatives in the electoral commission to leave their seats. The reason is that the opposition candidate Hama Amadou has not been able to conduct a regular electoral movement as he is arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.
Election success for Issoufou and PNDS
President Issoufou receives 48, 4 percent of the vote in the presidential election. This means that he does not reach the 50 percent required to avoid a second round of elections on March 20. He is then set against opposition leader Hama Amadou, who gets 17.4 percent of the vote despite being arrested on suspicion of trafficking in children (see November 2015). In the parliamentary elections held simultaneously, the government coalition gets 90 out of 171 seats, 75 of which go to the PNDS. Next largest will be Amadou’s party Moden. The turnout is 66.8 percent.
Possible to vote without a voting card
The Constitutional Court approves the government’s proposal that people who have not had their voting cards should be allowed to vote anyway, if two witnesses can prove their identity. The proposal is criticized by the opposition who say it is an attempt at electoral fraud.
Thousands of schoolchildren are relocating from border areas
In cooperation with the UN, the authorities have since November moved 99 schools from areas that are often attacked by Boko Haram to places further away from the border with Nigeria. According to the government, nearly 6,000 students have been able to resume their studies.
“Voice lengths are reliable”
7 th of January
The French Speaking Organization (OIF) says that the votes are reliable enough to be used in the February presidential election, if some changes are made. Among other things, the OIF proposes to delete 300 non-existent polling stations, as well as 25,000 people who have been registered twice.