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Christian-Muslim violence flares again in Nigeria

Catholic World News - September 06, 2011

At least 14 people have died in tribal clashes in central Nigeria in the early days of September. Although the violence has pitted Christians against Muslims, a Catholic bishop insists that religion is not the fundamental cause of the conflict.

The violence began when Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan were attacked. There assailants were described as Christians, but local Church leaders did not recognize them. “I do not know who these people are and what denomination they belong to,” said Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos.

In response to that attack, Muslims raided several Christian villages on Sunday and Monday. The bloodshed occurred around Jos, in the center of the country, where the mostly Muslim north meets the Christian south.

Archbishop Kaigama said that the violence reflected a breakdown in overall security. “It is very convenient for those in authority to say that the whole crisis is about religion,” he observed.

“Christians and Muslims are fighting. Yes, I don’t deny that,” the archbishop continued. “But then, the factors that are fueling that crisis are not certainly only religions.” He pointed to old tribal animosities, complaints about theft of cattle, and the influence of outside agitators.

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