Tired of communal conflicts in northern Nigeria, women-led peace networks take action

59b01f971400002800fa8470“We need peace. We are tired of conflicts. So many innocent people have died and we have to stop the violence. That is why I contribute to peace-making”, says Hadiza Adam, a 38-year-old woman from Angwan Rogo community in Jos North, located in the northern Nigerian state of Plateau.

At least 4,000 people have been killed in the recurring communal violence in the Plateau State since 2001. The predominantly Muslim community of Angwan Rogo, 2.1km (1.3 miles) from the state capital, Jos, was one of the hardest hit areas. The ethno-religious crisis was precipitated by political and economic rivalry, and disputes among indigenous and non-indigenous groups. Tensions continue to simmer over land rights, allocation of state resources, as well as politics and religious differences, among other issues.

Ms. Adam is one of the 400 members of the women-led peace network in Plateau State, created with the support of UN Women under the European Union-funded rogramme, Promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria. The four-year programme (2014-2018) supports the Nigerian Government in three northern states (Plateau, Adamawa and Gombe) in strengthening women’s leadership, advancing gender equality and improving protection for women and children in conflict settings. It is being implemented in partnership with the federal and state ministries of women affairs, UNICEF and grassroots leaders and organizations.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

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Nigeria University reconciles Christians, Muslims divided by Boko Haram

aun-photoThe American University of Nigeria (AUN) on Tuesday took a major step to reconcile residents of Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

Mubi is one of the local government areas in Nigeria’s North-east zone that Boko Haram insurgents overran and occupied for months in 2014.

During the crisis, the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the town said to be one of the largest in the state, was seriously strained.

But through its Peer-to-Peer Challenging Extremism campaign tagged, #IAmABeliever, the AUN brought members of Christian and Muslim self-protection groups together for training and sharing of stories on how they survived the Boko Haram carnage.

The programme titled, “Stories-for-Peace Workshop,” was organized by AUN students in collaboration with Illusions of Reflection – a Mubi-based youth group.

The workshop was attended by over 500 members of the Boys Brigade, a non-denominational Christian security group and the Nigerian Aid Group of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, a Muslim protection group.

Two highly revered religious leaders, Hamid Hammad and Ezekiel Williams, also attended the event.

Addressing the participants, Sheik Hammad lauded the AUN initiative and emphasised the importance of true and uniting stories in peace-building.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PREMIUM TIMES (NIGERIA)

Nigerian Christians and Muslims open historic peace centre

christian-and-muslim-leaders-in-nigeriaNigerian Christians and Muslims gathered on 19 August to open the International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH).

The centre is located in Kaduna, where more than 20,000 people have died in various conflicts over the last three decades. Amid a growing number of interfaith initiatives in Nigeria, the new centre has a unique goal: to systematically document interfaith relations to inform national and international policy-making.

Key local Nigerian organisations, the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama’atu Nasril Islam, led the effort to open the centre, which was preceded in 2014 by a consultative forum held in Abuja that drew about 40 Muslim and Christian leaders.

Many supporters were recognised at the grand opening, among them Dr Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, primate of the African Church and president of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Sultan of Sokoto Sa’adu Abubakar, and Dr Khalid Aliyu, Secretary General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam.

Prince Ghazi of Jordan and Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja were also among those who envisioned the centre’s goals and outcomes.

Malam Nasir EL-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, formerly opened the centre. He shared his experience of the way that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, sometimes speak and act in ways that hinder interreligious peace, so he was very pleased to support the centre as a physical symbol helping Muslims and Christians work together more effectively.

Abubakar also voiced his support for the centre, and spoke about how God wants there to be religious diversity in Nigeria. Onaiyekan said he believed the centre could potentially become a model for conflict resolution in other parts of the world.

FULL ARTICLE FROM EKKLESIA.UK 

Muslims are duty bound to protect Christians

christian-muslim-1024x573Last week, Al-Naba, the online magazine used for propaganda by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS), announced that Abubakar Shekau, the schizophrenic terror leader of Boko Haram, had been toppled and replaced with Abu Musab al-Barnawi. This announcement indicates there is a clear and irreconcilable disagreement between the factions of Boko Haram, and that ISIS has now ordained a new leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Basically, what ISIS’ announcement means is that terror campaigns of Abubakar Shekau will now be replaced by the terror campaigns of Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Both Abubakar Shekau and al-Barnawi are mercurial personalities bent on destructive, hate-filled violence aimed at drowning out the voices of normative Islam and cultivating a real hatred in the hearts of those outside of Islam.

Until his appointment as the new leader of this cultist group, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, a man well tutored in internecine insanity, was the spokesperson of Boko Haram who represented everything the terror group stands for, and justified its most heinous crimes of abduction, torture, rape, murder, … the list continues. In his audio recording responding to Abubakar Shekau’s outbursts protesting his replacement, al-Barnawi gave us a rare glimpse into the hell-on-earth called Boko-Haram-Ville and the true depiction of its totalitarian and psychotic leader, Abubakar Shekau. He revealed how members are killed on the flimsiest of excuses and tortured for (suspicion of) falling out with Shekau in this Potyomkin village- definitely not the sort of utopia that were promised to those brainwashed idiots who willfully signed on to their Caliphate. Also, media reports have it that al-Barnawi has claimed that Boko Haram under his leadership will continue to bomb churches and kill Christians. This is a claim that will have frightful consequences.
If truly what ISIS and its surrogates everywhere wish to establish is real Islamic state, their very words and actions, the abductions, murders, slavery, beheading and destruction they have unleashed on nations are loud testimonies to the stark contradictions between what they claim and the vision of Prophet Muhammad of an Islamic state. In fact, a casual reading of history will attest to the clear vision of Prophet Muhammad to build a multi-religious and inclusive society, and implement a style of government that pioneered a model of inter-faith relations still considered novel today. The visit of the Christians of Narjan to the city of Medina in 631CE is perhaps the most important noted interfaith interaction between Christians and Prophet Muhammad to show that he had a clear vision for how Muslims and Christians should relate. The (Najran) delegation came to Medina, the capital of the Islamic state, to engage the Prophet in a theological debate (the Prophet was said to have even spread his cloak so that the Christians of Najran who came could sit on it). During the course of their stay, their worship time came and they stood up to perform their worship outside. Rather than watch them worship on the roadside, he cleared the mosque of Muslim worshipers and then asked them to worship in his own mosque, the second holiest site in Islam. By this action alone, the prophet was emphatic on the issue of complete religious freedom.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DAILY POST [NIGERIA] 

No Muslim can justify that Quran teaches violence – Most Reverend Idowu-Fearon

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The Secretary-General of the Consultative Council of the Anglican Communion Worldwide and former Archbishop of the Anglican Communion (Kaduna Province), Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has hinted that the killings in the country by Boko Haram terrorists have nothing to do with Islam.

He stated that he has never justified violence but that the Quran does not support it despite that the killings had always been attributed to Islam.

In an interview with the Punch, the Most Reverend said there is no difference in ethics and values between Christians and Muslims and called on any critic to challenge him over his stand that there is not any difference between Christianity and Islam.

On why there is so much killings wherever there is Islam, Fearon stated, “That is a very good question. I go back to my Bible and to my field of interest. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the tendency to be violent. There is violence in these religions. Why? It is because they have written scriptures. Any religion that has a written scripture can be misinterpreted. Interpretation is the problem.

“You talked about violence. In the Quran, you are told; there is no compulsion in religion. It is there. The Quran does not allow you enforce your religion on anybody. It is not allowed; it is clearly stated.

“The Quran makes it clear that we are different. You have your religion; I have my religion; to you your religion; to me, my religion. So, it is a question of interpretation.

“I am not justifying any violence – my Muslim brothers know that I am totally against anything like Boko Haram or Muslim vandals going to kill people and destroy their property. That is not the teaching of Quran. They cannot justify it; just as I as a Christian cannot justify the killing of Muslims in Central Africa today. That is my area. I cover Africa. I am the Chair for the Programme of Muslim-Christian Relations in Africa. I am telling you what is happening. You cannot justify it. So, the bottom line: we need to go back to obeying what we have in our scriptures.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY POST (NIGERIA)

Christians, Muslims Unite Against Extremism as Nigeria’s President Calls Islamic Radicalism a ‘Tragic Paradox’

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari,  said at a major peace conference that the teachings of Islam forbid extremism in all forms, making the wave of radical Islamic attacks worldwide a “tragic paradox.”

“The tragic paradox of the global insurgency situation is that most of the atrocities committed by various insurgents all over the world today, are being carried out mainly by people who pretend to be Muslims, yet most of the victims and casualties are equally Muslims,” Buhari said Thursday at the opening of the International Islamic Conference on Peace and Nation Building in Abuja, according to Nigeria’s Daily Trust.

Buhari added that any group that preachers lawlessness and extremism is ‘irreligious and unacceptable’ to Islam, and urged religious leaders to stand up and oppose false teachings that motivate violent insurgents.

The Christian Case for Nigeria’s New Muslim President

2014123192216857734_20Nigeria’s newest president is Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim endorsed by Christian leaders who hope he can combat corruption and sectarian terrorism.

A former general who ruled Nigeria for a short time after a military coup in the 1980s, Buhari beat out incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by nearly 2 million votes. It is the first time in Nigerian history that an opposition candidate won the presidential election, according to The Economist. Buhari had finished as a runner-up in three previous elections.

“Despite the enormous tension and apprehension that preceded the election, Nigerians have demonstrated political maturity that elections can be won and lost without recourse to violence or acrimony,” said the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor, in a statement.

His colleague, Shuaibu Byel, who leads CAN’s northeast branch, praised Jonathan for accepting defeat and congratulating Buhari, calling him “a man of peace.”

Catholic bishops, among other religious leaders, see Buhari as “a man of integrityand decency who can fight corruption and Boko Haram,” John Bakeni, secretary of the Catholic diocese in Maiduguri, told RNS.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY