News / Africa

Nigeria's Religious Leaders Work to Stop Violence

Nigerian Religious Leaders Work to Stop Sectarian Violence in Northi
|| 0:00:00
X
Anne Look
June 02, 2012 4:54 PM
Sectarian violence in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt region has killed hundreds in recent years, and many fear that attacks by Islamic extremists in the north could ignite lingering tensions. However, Muslim and Christian religious leaders in the northern city of Kaduna are coming together to head off violence. VOA's Anne Look has this report from a recent trip to the area.

Nigerian Religious Leaders Work to Stop Sectarian Violence in North

TEXT SIZE - +
Anne Look
KADUNA, Nigeria - Sectarian violence in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt region has killed hundreds in recent years, and many fear that attacks by Islamic extremists in the north could ignite lingering tensions. However, Muslim and Christian religious leaders in the northern city of Kaduna are coming together to head off violence.

Kaduna, much like the Nigerian state itself, is divided into a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.  In April 2011, post-election riots in Kaduna state descended into religious violence that left almost 700 people dead.  Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south, had defeated a northern Muslim opposition figure for the presidency.  There were allegations of vote rigging.  Muslims attacked Christians, whom they believed had supported the winning candidate.  Christians retaliated against Muslims in southern Kaduna state.  

More than a year later, 1,200 Muslim refugees are still living at this camp site in Kaduna city.  They are mostly women and children, since many of the men were killed.

Binta Usman says a mob attacked her and her son in Zonkwa village.  They doused him in gasoline and set him on fire.  

"I will never show any good things to a Christian again.  I will never be happy with any Christians.  I will continue having an angry, sad mind with a Christian person," said Usman.

Yet, religious leaders say progress is being made.  Kaduna's Interfaith Mediation Center says two million viewers tune in for its weekly talk show.  In a recent edition Imam Muhammed Ashafa, focused on the sanctity of human life.

"It is unacceptable in Islam.  You can never commit an atrocity.  Anyone who would kill a non-Muslim, or even kill an animal, he will never enter paradise," said Ashafa. "That is the teaching of Islam."

Imam Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye have collaborated on conflict prevention for more than a decade.

Pastor Wuye said death tolls have been celebrated like points in a sporting match.

"It is not a game.  It is an issue of forgiveness so we should stop it where it is now.  Let's not say we must retaliate before it stops because when we retaliate, some will retaliate again and the cycle of violence will continue, God forbid, forever," said Wuye.

Unemployment in the area opens the youth up to becoming hoodlums-for-hire, but after last year's violence, young men like Francis Frank say they are wising up to being used by the political elite.

"There is a kind of consensus," said Frank.  "When the thing happened, when the youths now find out that, man, we are killing ourselves and these people are up there enjoying themselves."

Muslim and Christian youth groups in Kaduna have joined forces, and have succeeded in calming tensions when problems arise.

When a car bomb exploded on a Kaduna street on Easter Sunday, killing 40 people, rumors circulated that nearby churches had been the intended target.  Tempers began to rise.

A Christian youth leader at the scene went on local media to set the record straight.  

Most of the victims that day were Muslim.  No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing and the violence stopped there. There were no reprisals that day from either side.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Riot5000 from: Dalla
June 03, 2012 2:05 PM
Nigeria's religious leaders and stronmen are responsible for fueling this fire which is comsuming innocent people.
Even the so called president is AFRAID of fighting back.
Nigeria is a FARCE, a GEOGRAPHYCAL entity put together by BRITAIN to ensute that NO BLACK AFRICAN COUNTRY EVER moves out of the Dark ages.
The formula has worked magically over the years.
One warning though, WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZeELnOiHAw


by: Lawrence Taiwo Owoeye from: Ibadan, Oyo State.
June 02, 2012 6:03 PM
I beleive Nigeria remain a great nation. we are good people.


by: thomas mecha
June 02, 2012 4:09 PM
Thank your for an article about one of so many positive and promising initiatives in Nigeria between Christian and Muslims. Normally news media is mentioning only the bad news, and is thus giving a false impression.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid