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A new report documenting Christian-Muslim clashes in north and central Nigeria that killed 900 last year states that religion is being used to ignite ethnic tensions between those who consider themselves original inhabitants of an area and those viewed as “settlers.” The report explains how a localized dispute in the north Plateau state between ethnic groups competing for political control, land and economic resources turned into a full fledged religious conflict, extending beyond the boundaries of the state.
“Both Muslims and Christians have realized that religion is an extremely effective way of mobilizing large numbers of people … local leaders on both sides have cynically manipulated religion with disastrous consequences,” said Peter Takirambudde, director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division.