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Violence in Nigeria

ICC Note

Muslim youths unleashed attacks against Christians in Kano State in which nine Christians were killed, several churches set on fire, businesses and homes of Christians destroyed. The violence against Christians is also expanding in other parts of northern Nigeria .

October 1, 2007 Nigeria (CSW)-Over the weekend at least nine Christians were killed, churches were set on fire and businesses and homes owned by non-Muslims were destroyed by Muslim youths in the Tundun Wada area of Kano State following unspecified allegations that Christians had blasphemed the prophet Mohammed.

According to Christian sources on the ground, not a single Christian church, house or business has been left undamaged. Furthermore, an unknown number of people were injured and/or displaced during the violence. In a worrying development, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has received reports indicating that in an attempt to disguise the true extent of the violence and injuries the authorities in Tundun Wada have evacuated Christians and other non-Muslims from the area into neighbouring Bauchi State , where victims are said to be receiving shelter and treatment.

Confusion surrounds the reason for this violence. One theory, which has been discredited, is that an unidentified Christian cut out a cartoon of Mohammed and pasted it on the wall of a mosque. However neither the mosque nor the picture has been located.

According to another story, members of Nigeria ’s Youth Corps assigned to the area had held a prayer meeting in a classroom and left the name of Jesus on a blackboard, thereby occasioning offence. However, this incident is said to have occurred two weeks ago, and is therefore also unlikely to have been the trigger for the recent violence

Yet another report contends that tensions have been rising throughout northern and central Nigeria following stories of the publication on the internet of a new cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed. This may refer to a publication in a Bangladeshi newspaper that was meant to caricature some of the nation’s cultural traditions, but was deemed by some to be offensive to Islam, and led to the jailing of the young cartoonist.

The final report contends that violence erupted and spiralled when students from a local Islamic school rampaged after mistakenly assuming that a serious disagreement between students from a nearby secondary school was religious in nature.

Kano is a notoriously volatile state where regular bouts of anti-Christian violence have usually resulted in massacres. According to the Kano Chapter of CAN, over 2000 non-Muslims died during the last bout of violence, which occurred in 2004, and prior to the current violence Muslims in the Kurna area of Kano were initially reported to have threatened a similar rampage once the month of Ramadan comes to an end on 12 October.

Speaking on behalf of the Christian community following the violence, CAN National Secretary Eng. Samuel Salifu said: “We are pleading for the government to step in. I am directly telling President Yar’Adua because this may be a very good litmus test for his administration”. The government responded positively by announcing plans for a national religious conference to address the problem of religious violence in the country.

Tensions also continue in the Gwoza area of Borno State in the north east of Nigeria where Christians are once again facing imminent violence from the Al Sunna Wal Jamma group. Also known as the “Taliban”, remaining members of Al Sunna Wal Jamma fled into the Cameroon hills in 2004 after a resounding defeat by the Nigerian Armed Forces. Recent events indicate either that it has regrouped, or that it has been reformed by people sympathetic to its aims and objectives.

Please pray

• For an end to the tension and violence;
• For God to protect Christians in both Kano State and Borno State and comfort and provide for those who have lost loved ones, livelihood and property during the recent violence;
• That God would prevent any attempts by the ‘Taliban’ or their supporters to regroup or to harm Christians in any way;
• That state authorities in northern and central Nigeria would act decisively to forestall any further violence, ensure adequate protection for Christian areas and bring those responsible for religious violence to justice;
• Praising God for the initial response of the new federal government to the violence in Kano, and praying this translates into effective action to end the cycle of religious violence and discrimination in northern and central Nigeria.

Thank you for standing in prayer with Christians in Nigeria