A report has revealed that the violence in Nigeria, responsible for hundreds of deaths since January, is due to more than religious tensions alone, the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) reports.
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, according to a high level Christian-Muslim taskforce comprising the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Royal Jordanian Aal Al Bayt Institute (RABIIT).
The religious aspect of the violence, the report said, is reinforced by radical Islamist groups like Boko Haram which exploit the secular issues, and the revenge killings by Christians and Muslims. “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,” the report said.
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.”