News / Africa

    Nigerian Christians, Muslims Protest Against Common Enemy

    Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them during a protest on common problems faced in Nigeria, January 10, 2012.
    Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them during a protest on common problems faced in Nigeria, January 10, 2012.
    Heather Murdock
    In the Nigerian city of Kaduna, which is known for sectarian violence, Muslims and Christians  rallied together Friday against a common enemy: the anti-Islamic video that has sparked protests around the world.  Religious leaders say they hate the video, but they are hoping it can help heal decades of violence between the two groups. 

    It’s been more than 10 years since the Kaduna neighborhood has seen violence between Muslims and Christians.  Locals say that’s because Christians stay away to avoid danger.  Muslims avoid other parts of the city for the same reasons.
     
    Regardless, sectarian violence continues in many other parts of Kaduna, with nearly 100 people being killed in June.
     
    But on Friday, religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, marched together here, decrying a shared enemy and celebrating what they hope will be a step towards peace.
     
    Abdulkareem Youssef, one of the organizers, says the issue hasn’t changed since mid-September when the protests erupted around the world after the YouTube release of a video, privately produced by an American, that desecrates Islam.
     
    There was violence last month in Libya and Egypt, but protests in Nigeria have been peaceful.  Youssef says protesters want to tell the world not to release similar material or else there will be violence here. 

    “We don’t want this to happen again.  Otherwise, we will not take it easily to whoever, whoever tries to sabotage our prophet,” he said.

    Most of the hundreds of protesters Friday were Muslims, chanting praise in Arabic for God and the Prophet.  But Pastor Yohanna Buru is one of many Christian leaders who parked their cars in the normally Muslim-only neighborhood to march with the group, which was surrounded by dozens of armed guards.  

    He says they joined the protest out of solidarity, because both groups are against materials offensive to either religion.
     
    Anger over the video, he adds, has presented an opportunity for Muslims and Christians to re-establish ties.
     
    Preventative protesting is also a factor, he says, urging Christians to condemn the video, lest some Muslims accuse them of supporting it, which could cause another round of violence.
     
    “We are supporting this demonstration today because we know it will bring peace.  Because some of the Muslims, they don’t understand that we Christians are not supporting what they [the filmmakers] are doing,” stated Buru.

    Kaduna is a “Middle Belt” city in the center of Nigeria and it's divided like the country as a whole, with mostly Muslims in the north and mostly Christians in the south.  
     
    Human Rights Watch says nearly 16,000 people have been killed in political or sectarian violence in Nigeria since 1999, and much of the bloodshed has been in the Middle Belt.   Over 800 people were killed in Kaduna in 2010 alone.  
     
    Sectarian violence here is usually about politics, resources or revenge but the fights are almost always along ethnic and religious fault lines.
     
    Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora