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Muslim-on-Christian violence expands in Africa
In Nigeria, pastor killed; in Egypt, Copts die

 By Michael Carl
05/10/2011 Islam (WND)-Violence against Christians in Muslim regions of Africa is on the rise, and advocates for religious freedom are expressing concern over the deaths of 17, including the family of a Nigerian pastor, as well as the deaths of a dozen Christians in Egypt.

International Christian Concern’s Nigeria specialist Jonathan Racho says there is no known motive for the Nigeria attack.

“Seventeen Christians were killed, including that pastor’s family, and we were not told the reason,” Racho said.

“This was a Christian village in a Muslim state. Christians have been attacked in the past and it’s a part of the campaign to drive Christians from the northern part of Nigeria,” Racho said of the attack in the northern village of Aurum.

“Since 1999 in Bauchi state, several Christians have been killed, but no one has been brought to justice. The government has to intervene and the government has to be fair to all of its citizens,” the pastor said, according to Racho.

“Thousands of Christians have been killed in northern Nigeria since 1999 when Shariah law was introduced. But unfortunately, no one is being held responsible for the attacks on Christians,” he said.

There also are reports that some 300 churches have been burned down amid the violence.

Racho said the actual numbers probably cannot be verified.

“The Nigerian officials arranged a mass burial of the victims because they didn’t want the news to go out,” he said, noting Muslim officials have good reason for keeping the casualty numbers quiet.

“They were concerned that Christians in the southern part of the country heard about the level of the brutal attacks against their brothers and sisters that they may retaliate,” Racho said.

While the violence in Nigeria continues, 12 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded in Salafi Islamic attacks against three churches in a Cairo, Egypt, neighborhood.

International Christian Concern’s Aidan Clay said the situation is continuing to deteriorate, and there is a reason.

“The Christians don’t have protection. There are no military forces guarding their churches or offering the protection they had to an extent under former President Mubarak,” Clay said.

He also said the Egyptian violence is being whipped up largely by the militant Salafist sect, using an incident from last year.

“A very large group of Salafist Muslims went outside a large Coptic Church in Cairo and began protesting. The protest was over an incident that occurred sometime last year,” Clay explained.

“They claim that a couple of women who are Coptic priests’ wives had converted to Islam and were being held against their will by the Coptic Church,” Clay said.

Clay said when the Salafis tried to enter the church, the priests forbid them from entering. The refusal was the pretext for the Muslims to open fire.

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported over the weekend that a group of about 200 Copts staged a sit-down strike at the U. S. embassy to call for international protection and for the government to compensate victims of the recent church burnings.

The Salafists who recently have asserted their political power have called for prosecution of the Coptic Pope Shanouda III.

Clay said the Salafis have an agenda and may be financially supported by the Saudis.

“They’re trying to bring Islam back to the way it was after the death of Muhammad. It comes from the Wahhabi doctrine of Saudi Arabia and many believe they’re supported by Saudi funds. So they’re ultra conservative Muslims who want to impose Shariah,” Clay said.

“What we’re seeing now is a growing lack of trust between the Coptic Christians and the military,” Clay said.

WND has reported that Nigeria is at least the third nation in recent years where there has been Muslim violence on Christians following a presidential election.

Earlier violence erupted in Ivory Coast and Kenya.

In Kenya, President Obama campaigned for the Muslim challenger, and in Ivory Coast, a Christian president was re-elected but was removed from office and replaced by a Muslim challenger earlier this year at the behest of the United States and the United Nations.

Even with strong Muslim backing, Odinga was beaten in the December 2007 elections. He then accused the incumbent president of rigging the vote and allegedly incited his supporters to riot. Over the next month, some 1,500 Kenyans were killed and more than 500,000 displaced – with most of the violence led by Muslims, who set churches ablaze and hacked Christians to death with machetes.

Odinga eventually ended up as prime minister in Kenya through a power-sharing arrangement that was enacted in an effort to appease the rioters.

In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak’s regime fell shortly after the U.S. withdrew support. Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood has developed into a political force in the country as Christians have been attacked and killed.

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