Christians Urged to Protect Themselves Against Muslim Attacks in Nigeria.
26 Nov 2002
Nigeria. November 27, 2002. The Christian Association of Nigeria warned that Christians in Nigeria would be forced to take their protection into their own hands if they were again attacked by Muslim rioters.
"All the social unrest and violent upheavals we are witnessing now are not unconnected with the mindless introduction of Sharia in some northern states," Archbishop Ola Makinde of Abuja said yesterday.
"We are law-abiding citizens and expect the government to protect us," he said. "If the government fails to protect us our people will be left with no option but to defend and protect themselves by whatever means available to them."
"At that point no church leader or sermon will be able to stop them. A word is sufficient for the wise," the Anglican leader said, at a news conference with other Christian clerics.
Last week protests broke out in the northern city of Kaduna and in Abuja after Muslims took exception to an article on the Miss World pageant which suggested the Prophet Mohammed might have enjoyed the spectacle and perhaps married one of the contestants.
In both protests Christians were targeted, and in Kaduna the fighting degenerated into sectarian riots that left 220 people dead and over 20 churches destroyed.
The Nigerian Red Cross has estimated that more than 30,000 people were displaced by the conflict.
Anne Ajayi, a 46-year-old trader taking refuge with about 75 others in a local police barracks, said Christians were moving out of her Muslim-dominated area "on a daily basis."
On Tuesday, Islamic leaders in the northern state of Zamfara further fanned tensions by issuing a "fatwa" or religious decree calling on Muslims to kill the author of the offending article, a Christian woman who has now fled the country.
The conservative state of Zamfara, the first of a dozen regional governments in the north to introduce strict Islamic sharia law, said Tuesday it had told Muslims in a fatwa decree that it was their religious duty to kill Isioma Daniel, a reporter in her early 20s who wrote the story in Nigeria's This Day daily newspaper.
"What we are saying is that the Holy Koran has clearly stated that whoever insults the Prophet of Islam, Mohammad, should be killed," Zamfara State Commissioner for Information Umar Dangaladima Magaji told Reuters.
The archbishop laid the blame for the killing at the door of President Olusegaun Obasanjo's federal government, which has condemned the fatwa, the rioters and the inflammatory article.
"We are not an Islamic state. We are not ready to become one," Makinde said.
"Unfortunately in all these cases there has not been any report of government to bring the culprits to book as a deterrent in a multi-religious country such as ours," he said.
"This inaction of the government to us is largely responsible for the perpetration of this killing of human lives, which are sacred before God."
Pray for the persecuted church in Nigeria.