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Leading Nigerian prelate denounces Islamist terrorist group

Catholic World News - August 20, 2012

The president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference has denounced the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram and called upon European Christians to urge their governments to intervene on behalf of Nigerian Christians.

Boko Haram “is a group that intends to replace the Constitution with Islamic law in order to forcefully convert the people to Islam,” said Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos. “They initially began to attack the government, its institutions and security agencies, then initiated attacks on churches. They want to eliminate churches because they educate and promote culture.”

“The violence by these groups is also fostered by the incapacity of the government to control the situation,” he continued. “Churches are continuously under attack, in Kaduna, in Kano, in Jos, and we begin to feel abandoned, without any help. The attacks occur when we least expect it; many Christians are now afraid to go to Mass and exercise their rights as Christians.”

Distinguishing between “the fanatic fundamentalist groups and ordinary Muslims, because ordinary Muslims in Nigeria want to live in peace with their neighbors,” Archbishop Kaigama called upon European Christian to “pray for the improvement of security conditions” and said “pressure your own governments to intervene in this affair.”

“The situation is very difficult because people are afraid,” he added. I encourage them to live their religious responsibility, to continue to have faith … Some are afraid and flee but a substantial part is responding in a positive way. You never know when you might be fired upon; bombs may explode and you may be killed when you do not expect it. Every time I enter my car to travel to the cathedral or to visit the villages, I know I might not return home.”

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