Christians Murdered and Driven from their Homes in a Massacre Instigated by Muslim 'Peacemakers' BF. Press Release.
25 Nov 2002
Nigeria. November 25. The Barnabas Fund UK in a press release has said that Scores of Christians have been slaughtered and hundreds injured by Muslim youths in Kaduna, Nigeria. The riot was instigated by Muslim religious leaders who only months ago
Enraged Muslim demonstrators took to the streets of Kaduna on Wednesday 20 November after a Nigerian newspaper ran an article saying that the Islamic prophet Muhammad would probably have married one of the contestants of the Miss World contest which was due to be held in Abuja. After they had burnt down the offices of This Day newspaper Muslim rioters chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) then barricaded the streets with burning tyres, and began looting and burning homes and businesses.
Next they turned on local Christians. "Our people had nothing whatsoever to do with either the article or this contest but we have been victimized by Muslim rioters for political ends," said Bishop Josiah speaking today from Kaduna. Over 20 churches have been desecrated, looted, vandalized and burnt down. Christian citizens have been stabbed, beaten to death and even burnt alive. An eyewitness reports that one man was dragged from a car and bludgeoned to death by a crowd. At the height of the riots Muslim youths are believed to have operated roadblocks, checking the religious identity of motorists and viciously attacking any Christians they found.
Responding with anger to the massacres Christian youths began to fight back resulting in the deaths of Muslims and the destruction of some mosques. Over 200 people have been killed so far and more than 1,200 injured. Some 12,000 people have been driven from their homes. The police and army have arrested over 100.
Muslims in Nigeria are fiercely opposed to the Miss World competition being held in the country (the venue has now been moved to London) and were infuriated by the article, which This Day has since withdrawn and apologized for several times. However, Bishop Josiah believes the article merely provided an excuse for the violence, which in reality was instigated and propagated for far more sinister political reasons. "This violence has nothing to do with religion. It is entirely political," he said.
Across North and Middle Belt Nigeria Muslim activists have successfully lobbied for the expansion of Islamic law (Shari'ah) over the past three years. Eleven states have now adopted full Shari'ah to the detriment of their non-Muslim Christian minorities who have begun to see their freedoms eroded. However in Kaduna state, where Muslims and Christians are roughly equal in numbers.
Governor Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi has resisted the demands for full Shari'ah instead allowing for a more limited expansion applying it only in Muslim-majority areas. This has infuriated Islamic religious leaders who are trying to oust him from office.
The article in This Day has provided Muslim leaders with just the excuse they needed. By unleashing terrible violence against Christians they hope to instigate a crisis, which will result in the governor's removal. During the riots Muslim anger against Governor Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi became apparent as abuse, slogans and songs were chanted and shouted against him. Makarfi's election posters have been defaced, stripped from walls and burnt on bonfires outside Government House.
"Religious leaders in the city, both Christian and Muslim, have appealed for calm," says Bishop Josiah. However, "the same Islamic religious leaders have been deeply implicated in instigating the violence in the first place." Earlier this year Muslim and Christian leaders in Kaduna signed an agreement committing
Themselves to work towards peace and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna, a city which has been torn apart by Islamist violence several times in recent years. However, only months later these same leaders willfully ignored their agreements in order to stir up this massacre for their own political ends.
KADUNA CRISIS APPEAL
"Our people need your help. Christians have been left homeless. Churches need rebuilding." Bishop Josiah is appealing for help for the Christian victims of the latest violence through the Barnabas Fund. An emergency Kaduna Crisis Appeal has been set up by Barnabas Fund to support the victims of the riots in Kaduna.