Christians versus Muslims

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with over 108 million people, is sharply divided along religious lines, and continues to be torn by violence because of this.  In this partially Christian country, the Muslims have been more and more strident in demanding the introduction of Sharia law, about which the Christians are wary.  Calls to introduce Sharia, or Islamic Law, in some northern states, such as Barno, have sparked fighting that has killed thousands during the first quarter of the year 2000.

Sharia supporters have assured non-Muslims they will not be tried under Islamic Law, which prohibits such things as drinking alcohol and calls for separate schools and public transportation for men and women.  But such assurances have meant little to Christians, who fear discrimination and marginalization under Sharia.

Other areas such as the states of Suleija, Kaduna and Zamfara, as well as the city of Kano, are suffering enormous unease over Sharia.

Not since the death of tens of thousands of Ibo Christians in the 1960′s in a war in which one million people died, has Nigeria fallen under such fear due to religious-based conflict.

In September, 2001, President Olusegun Obsanjo had to call out the army to combat Muslim-Christian violence raging in Jos, a hilltop city of 4 million some 620 miles northeast of Lagos, where terrified residents told of churches and homes burned and bodies piling up in the streets.  The fighting among the two religions apparently erupted at the time of Muslim prayers when a Christian women angered Muslims by trying to cross a street where Muslim men were praying.  Hundreds were killed during that and subsequent fighting.  According to commentators on the scene, the tension between the two religions is increasing.

In other parts of Nigeria as well, thousands have died in vicious Muslim-Christian clashes, ever since several states introduced Sharia. In the year 2000, 2,000 people died in Kaduna state alone.

In other parts of Nigeria as well, thousands have died in vicious Moslem-Christian clashes, ever since  several states had introduced the Sharia.

According to BBC News, in November, 2002, more than 200 people were killed in religious unrest in Kaduna, sparked by a row over the Miss World beauty contest.

Again in 2003, the Nigerian Red Cross Society reported hundreds were killed in the Dumne village area as a result of religious-based violence; many more were wounded, and more than 20,000 were displaced.  Many houses and churches were razed.

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