Report on Sectarian Violence in Nigeria Published by Taskforce including the Archbishop of Dublin
Added on 02/08/2012
The root cause of violence which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people in Nigeria already this year goes beyond religious tensions alone, according to a report by a high level Christian–Muslim taskforce. The report has been published following a visit by the taskforce, which included the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, to Nigeria in May.
The joint delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Royal Jordanian Aal Al Bayt Institute (RABIIT) suggests that while the violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria is the worst between members of the two faiths since the Bosnian war of 1992–1995, the sectarian conflict is driven by poverty, inequality and injustice.
The religious aspect of the violence, the report says, is reinforced by radical Islamist groups like Boko Haram which, the task force believes, exploits the secular issues, and the revenge killings by Christians and Muslims.
The report states: ‘The joint delegation believes that the primary causes of the current tension and conflict in Nigeria are not inherently based in religion but rather, rooted in a complex matrix of political, social, ethnic, economic, and legal problems, among which the issue of justice—or the lack of it—looms large as a common factor. Nevertheless, the joint delegation acknowledges that there is a possibility that the current tension and conflict might become subsumed by its religious dimension (especially along geographical ‘religious fault–lines’) and so particularly warns against letting this idea—through misperception and simplification— become a self– fulfilling prediction.’
WCC and RABIIT said they would not presume to advise the Nigerian people or Government on how to resolve their own problems adding that it sufficed to identify them from a neutral, external perspective. However, they said they intended to help ‘bearing in mind that resolving some smaller problems—especially problems that seem theologically–driven—can help make the larger problems of which they are a part, less intractable and more easily manageable’.
The two organisations have pledged an ongoing commitment to the situation in Nigeria and have agreed on a number of projects. Separately WCC and RABIIT plan to publish information on the theology of peace in their respective religions. These publications are to be published in Nigeria with Nigerian participation and WCC and RABIIT hope the texts can be included in Nigerian school and university curricula.
WCC and RABIIT plan to work together to encourage publication by a group of Nigerian Christians and Muslims a booklet in popular format distilling the understanding of peace and harmony in both Christian and Muslim Scriptures. They also aim to work with individuals and institutions in Nigeria to develop a common statement for people to sign, based on both their religious traditions, pledging themselves to work for the peace and wellbeing of Nigeria.
Following the publication of the report, Archbishop Michael Jackson said that to have been a member of the joint Muslim Christian fact–finding delegation to Nigeria was a rare honour and privilege. ‘My combined love of Nigeria and concern for inter–faith relations prepared me for the potential and the precariousness of this visit,” he commented. “Our role throughout was one of intentional listening. This built up trust as we heard victims, governors and community leaders. We will continue to pray for Nigeria in very fraught and painful times.’
The delegation was the first high level, international, inter–religious delegation of Christian and Muslims to visit Nigeria in recent years. During the visit to Nigeria they sought to understand the reasons behind the violence which has affected the lives of Nigerians since 2000. Members aimed to investigate the situation on the ground, to express clearly to the political and religious leadership in Nigerian the concerns of the international community, to demonstrate an international model of Christians and Muslims working together and to identify projects which could help.
The delegation was made up of:
Christian participants – Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (Christian Co–ordinator); the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Anglican Archbishop of Dublin; Bishop Dr Alex Gehaz Malasusa, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, Vice–President of the Lutheran World Federation; Revd Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, WCC President, USA; the Most Revd Dr Robert Aboagye–Mensah, formerly Presiding Bishop Methodist Church of Ghana and Vice–President of AACC for West Africa, currently Director of Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation, Zambia; and Mrs Cecile Tshibanda, Chairperson of Catholic Women Association and Coordinator of African Women of Faith Network.
Muslim participants – Dr H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, Chairman of the Board of the Royal Aal al–Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought and Chief Advisor to H.M. King Abdullah II bin Al–Hussein for Religious and Cultural Affairs, and Personal Envoy of H.M. King Abdullah II (Muslim Co–ordinator); H.E. the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Dr. Mustafa Ceric; H.E. Sheikh Dr Hussein Hasan Abakar, Imam of the Muslims, Chad, President of the Higher Council for Islamic Affairs, Chad; H.E. Professor Dr Din Syamsudin, President of Muhammadiyah Party, Indonesia; Professor Dr Abdul Ghaffur El–Busaidy, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims; and Dr Mustafa Ali, Secretary–General of the African Council for Religious Leaders.
The delegation was also joined by Nigerian and Christian religious leaders for part of the visit.
For further information please contact:
Diocesan Communications Officer
Dublin & Glendalough