Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Religious and Social Factors in Nigeria Attacks

Nigeria’s bishops and the Holy See stress the conflict is more about ethnicity and politics than religion. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi expressed the Holy See’s “concern and horror” over the wave of violence in the country, and said Monday that it appeared the Christians had been attacked not for religious but for social reasons.

Speaking yesterday on Vatican Radio, the Archbishop of Abuja, John Olorunfemi, said the violence was the result of “a classic feud between farmers and herdsmen, the difference being that the herdsmen are all Muslim and the farmers are Christians”.

“It’s easy for the international press to simply report that Muslim and Christians are killing each other,” he said. “But this is not the case because the cause is not religious but has to do with social, economic, tribal and cultural issues and differences.”

In an article for the British magazine The Tablet this week, the Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama, wrote that the real underlying causes of the conflict are poverty, corruption and tensions between “indigenous” and “settler” communities, adding that religion has been “hijacked.”

“The aggressive use of the mass media and the promise of material prosperity give the impression that religion is not about eternal or supernatural values but about earthly progress and domination,” he wrote, before this latest outbreak of violence. “It is against this backdrop that the violent clashes in Jos took place in January.”

Religious leaders, he said, “need to reclaim its integrity and promote peace and reconciliation” and political leaders need to address the underlying causes, work for the common good, and stop using religion to score political points or “more bloodshed will follow.”

Read it all here.

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