Conflict in Nigeria Is More Complicated Than “Christians vs. Muslims”

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Jack McCaslin is a research associate for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC.

An article from Fox News recently called attention to the killing of Christians in Nigeria by comparing it to the deadly Easter Sunday suicide bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. According to the article, the attacks “highlight the dangers that remain from asymmetric terrorism and violence against Christians in ethnically and religiously divided societies.” However, linking these tragedies to each other and to a perceived global trend of violence against Christians mischaracterizes the nature of the conflicts in Nigeria.

The appropriateness of a comparison between Sri Lanka and Nigeria is not clear. Their ethnic make-up, social statistics, and post-colonial experiences are vastly different. Not least, Christians and Muslims are a tiny minority in Sri Lanka, a predominately Buddhist country, while in Nigeria, Christians and Muslims each constitute about half of the population. Identifying the perpetrators of atrocities in both countries is difficult. Although the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, it is not clear what its role was in the Sri Lanka bombings or, for that matter, what its role is in northern Nigeria. 

With respect to Nigeria, Fox cites the recent killing of eleven and the wounding of thirty in Gombe. A police officer got into an argument with a procession of children during Easter activities, which reportedly led him to drive into it. It is not clear what the police officer’s motives were; Boko Haram is active in Gombe but it seems that they were not involved.

FULL ARTICLE FROM COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS 

‘Fake news’ driving ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria

nigeria_buhariMisinformation risks worsening ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria, media commentators and researchers say, at a time of heightened concern about internal security and fragile community relations.

The months and weeks running up to recent elections saw a slew of false claims about politicians and their parties, as part of deliberate attempts to shape the narrative before polling.

Africa’s most populous nation is often characterised as teetering on the brink.

Security threats include Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast and violence between nomadic cattle herders and farmers in central states.

The latter is primarily a battle for water and land but those involved have been polarised along ethnic, sectarian and religious lines, in a country with more than 250 ethnic groups and where identity is rarely far from the surface.
Simon Kolawole, a former editor with Nigeria’s ThisDay newspaper and founder of The Cable online news site, said manufactured lies in the guise of news was “further endangering the delicate ethno-religious fabric of Nigeria”.

It was also “hampering the credibility of news outlets in the country”, he told AFP.

Information minister Lai Mohammed said misinformation and hate speech “threatens the peace, unity, security and corporate existence of Nigerians”.

Of particular concern was the fabrication of stories pitting the country’s mainly Muslim north against the predominantly Christian south a traditional fault line often used by proponents of restructuring the current federal system and even breaking it up.

“When you go by social media, the impression you get is as if Nigeria is at war and as if Muslims are killing Christians,” said Mohammed.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FRANCE24 

Did ‘Muslim Militants’ Kill 120 Christians in Nigeria in February/March 2019?

fea63168-97d0-446a-8287-51ec95e7e6b3Muslim militants killed 120 Christians in Nigeria during a three-week period in February and March 2019.

Rating

Although not entirely reliable, various local news reports corroborated the incidents and deaths described in reports by Breitbart and the Christian Post website.

Religious affiliation is a secondary issue in the ongoing Nigerian herder-farmer conflict, which impartial experts consistently describe as being primarily a dispute over natural resources and land usage. Reports in the U.S. in March 2019 failed to properly explain the complexity of the conflict, and Breitbart’s article did not mention a major reported atrocity perpetrated against the mostly Muslim Fula people in February 2019.

Origin

In the aftermath of the March 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand, massacre in which a white supremacist gunman fatally shot 50 people at two mosques, some right-leaning observers quickly turned their attention to atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Muslims against Christians in recent weeks.

On 16 March, Breitbart reported that “Nigerian Muslim militants” had killed 120 Christians within a space of three weeks since late February 2019. In another article published the next day, the same author wrote that “Political leaders and public figures were falling over themselves this weekend to condemn the mosque attacks in New Zealand, while dozens of Christians were slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria to the sound of crickets.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM SNOPES.COM

Nigerian archbishop: Church works as bridge between Muslims, Christians

20190305T1116-1350-CNS-NIGERIA-KAIGAMA-BRIDGE_800-690x450NEW YORK – The Catholic Church is working to bridge the divide between Muslims and Christians in a country where the divide between the groups is fraught with large and small issues, said a Nigerian archbishop.

Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama of Jos, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, gave examples from his archdiocese in the central part of the country.

In Jos, the bustling administrative capital of Plateau state, the archbishop established the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace Centre in 2011 to “attempt to narrow the gap between different groups that are hostile to each other,” he said.

It is a place where “Muslims and Christians walk together,” the archbishop told Catholic News Service in early March. The archbishop was in New York to speak at a March 1 panel at the United Nations, “International Religious Freedom,” organized by the Holy See Observer Mission to the U.N.

“I have lived through all different types of crisis. I didn’t want to wait for big solutions, but wanted to do something small,” Archbishop Kaigama told CNS. “It’s a safe space to talk to one another and a proactive center to forestall crisis and possible violence.”

“We bring in Muslim and Christian primary and secondary school students and train them together in peace education. We also bring in traditional grassroots leaders to encourage people to cultivate dialogue,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUXNOW

Nigerian women’s network builds interfaith bridges

rns-nigeria-peacemaking2-120718 (1)When Fatima Isiaka, a respected Muslim leader in Abuja, Nigeria, asked a cab driver to drop her off at St. Kizito Catholic Church, the driver thought she was lost.

Isiaka, who wears a jilbab head covering and robe, recalled: “He told me, ‘This is a church!’ I said, ‘Yes, I know.’”

Isiaka was part of an innovative effort to bring Christian and Muslim women together in hopes of fostering religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. The Women of Faith Peacebuilding Network was started in 2011 by Agatha Ogo­chukwu Chikelue, a sister of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy congregation, and Maryam Dada Ibra­him, a local Muslim businesswoman.

Isiaka, now deputy director in the network’s Abuja branch, looks back fondly on her time at the St. Kizito Catholic Church.

“I loved every bit of my stay there,” Isiaka said. “I found a place in the church where I performed ablution, to set up my mat and pray.”

Since the group began, the Women of Faith Peacebuilding Network’s activities have reached more than 10,000 Muslim and Christian women across the country. The network also offers vocational training in catering, bead making, fashion design, and soap production to a smaller group of women who participate in an annual 21-day seminar.

Nigeria’s population is evenly divided: about half Muslim and half Christian. Northern Nigeria is majority Muslim, while southern Nigeria is majority Christian. Ensuring equal Christian and Muslim political representation at local, state, and national levels is an especially sensitive subject.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN CENTURY 

 

Women’s interfaith network builds bridges amid Nigeria’s violence, Muslim and Christian mistrust

Peacebuilding1 cWhen Fatima Isiaka, a religious Muslim teacher, asked the cab driver to drop her off at St. Kizito Catholic Church in Abuja, the driver thought she was lost. “The cab man that took me to the church, a Muslim, was surprised to see me enter a church,” Isiaka recalled of the summer 2014 meeting. “He told me, ‘This is a church!’ I said, ‘Yes, I know.’ ”

Isiaka was part of innovative effort to bring Christian and Muslim women together in hopes of fostering religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. The Women of Faith Peacebuilding Network was first started in 2011by Sr. Agatha Ogochukwu Chikelue, of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy congregation, and local Muslim businesswoman Maryam Dada Ibrahim.

Isiaka, an observant Muslim who wears a grey jilbab, a long head covering and robe, the traditional dress of some Nigerian Muslim women, is a respected Muslim leader in Abuja. Today, she serves as deputy director in the network’s Abuja branch.

She looks back fondly on her time at the St. Kizito Catholic Church. “It was an amazing experience and I loved every bit of my stay there,” said Isiaka. “In fact, I found a place in the church where I performed ablution [ritual washing before Muslims prayer], to set up my mat and pray.”

Since the group started in 2011, the Women of Faith Peacebuilding Network’s activities have reached more than 10,000 Muslim and Christian women across the country through seminars, meditations, presentations by religious leaders, and dialogue.

The peacebuilding network also offers vocational training in catering, bead making, fashion design, and soap production to a smaller group of women who participate in the annual 21-day seminar. “The empowerment [training] serves as bait to lure more women to the network so that they’ll learn peaceful coexistence,” said Isiaka. The Swiss Embassy provided seed money to get the vocational training started in 2014. Cardinal John Onaiyekan’s Foundation For Peace (COFP), an organization working for peace in northern Nigeria, has sponsored the vocational training in subsequent years.

Sr. Agatha Chikelue started thinking about how to build bridges between Christians and Muslims in 2008, as northern Nigeria disintegrated into violence. Nigeria’s population is evenly divided with 48 percent Muslims and 49 percent Christians. Northern Nigeria is majority Muslim, while southern Nigeria is majority Christian. Ensuring equal Christian and Muslim political representation at local, state, and national levels is an especially sensitive subject.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GLOBAL SISTERS REPORT 

Muslims, Christians can flourish together — Buhari

PRESIDENT-BUHARI-HOSTS-BIZ-MEN-1024x683President Muhammadu Buhari has warned against politicising religion, saying Christians and Muslims in Nigeria can flourish together.

Mr Buhari said this in an opinion article published by the News Agency of Nigeria.

The article earlier appeared on the UK-based Christian Times on Friday.

In the article, the president referenced a Biblical verse and argued that Christians and Muslims share the same root, although their believes differ.

Read the op-ed below:

In 1844, the Revd Samuel Ajayi Crowther returned home to Yoruba land (now part of modern-day Nigeria). Twenty years earlier, he had been kidnapped and sold to European slave traders who were bound for the Americas. He was freed by an abolitionist naval patrol, and received by the Church Missionary Society. There, he found his calling.

Crowther made his voyage home to establish the first Anglican mission in Yoruba land. He came with the first Bibles translated into Yoruba and Hausa languages. He opened dialogue and discussion with those of other faiths. And his mission was a success: Crowther later became the first African Anglican bishop in Africa.

Today, Nigeria has the largest Christian population on the continent. The messages and teachings of Christianity are part of the fabric of each person’s life.

Along with the millions of Christians in Nigeria today, I believe in peace, tolerance, and reconciliation; in the institution of the family, the sanctity of marriage, and the honour of fidelity; in hope, compassion, and divine revelation.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PREMIUM TIMES (NIGERIA)