Nigerian archbishop hopes for definitive end to violence

Jos, Nigeria, Jul 9, 2012 / 08:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama is concerned over the seemingly endless violence against Christians that claimed at least 58 lives this past weekend and hundreds of others in recent weeks.

It is “our prayer that something definitive will be done to stop the situation that is inhuman,” the Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria and Nigerian Bishops’ Conference president said.

In a July 9 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Kaigama said that the violence against Christian villages around Jos “doesn't seem to stop.”

Although he was recently awarded the Institute for International Research's annual peace building award, the archbishop said he and his priests are discouraged by the silence of foreign governments surrounding the violence in Nigeria.

A peaceful resolution “cannot be left to just one country,” the archbishop said, urging a “collective effort.”

Many countries have issued travel warnings for their citizens but have otherwise remained silent.

And yet, Archbishop Kaigama stated, “this is the time we need them to express solidarity, that human show of love and support.”

The area surrounding Jos has a long history of violence and religious tension, as it lies in between the mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

The most recent in the series of attacks began this past Saturday, leaving at least 58 dead after the initial bombings and reprisal attacks. The deceased include a federal and a state lawmaker.

Some have blamed the attacks on Muslim herdsmen of the Fulani ethnic group, but they have denied any responsibility for the violence.

Archbishop Kaigama said he spoke with Plateau State Governor Theodore Orji who believes the perpetrators are outsiders who were hired to carry out the attacks.

Days before the most recent string of attacks, Archbishop Kaigama condemned the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram, which has conducted deadly bombings in the area in the past.

“This Boko Haram issue is exceptional,” he said, calling their attacks “un-Islamic” in a July 4 Vatican Radio interview. “It has to be understood correctly. It is not Muslims in Nigeria fighting Christians in Nigeria or vice-versa.”
 
In the past, religious tensions have been high, but not to the degree they have reached following the July 8 attacks.

Nonetheless, he said it is important to clarify that Muslims and Christians can, and often do, live in peace together.

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