FURTHER clashes between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria broke
out as the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, and the
former Prime Minister Tony Blair met in the country's capital,
Abuja, to promote religious tolerance.
Riots broke out in a northern Nigerian town over rumours that a
Christian man had blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad. Four
Christians were said to have been killed.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation had arranged the visit to Abuja
to promote its initiative working with young people and faith
leaders to encourage reconciliation between Christian and Muslim
communities. It linked students from Christian and Muslim
communities in Nigeria, by video, with students from different
faiths in Derby, joined by Mr Blair, Bishop Welby, and Prince Ghazi
bin Muhammad of Jordan.
Bishop Welby said that it was his 70th visit to Nigeria, where
he had formerly worked as an oil executive.
"Thirty-four years after first coming to Nigeria, and with more
than 70 visits since, in all parts of this vibrant, passionate,
talented, and promising country, I am both challenged and
profoundly excited by this initiative. In service to Nigeria, it
offers a contribution to the hope of peace across the whole
A few days later, on Sunday, bomb blasts that targeted a church
inside a military barracks in Jaji, 30 km from the northern state
capital, Kaduna, killed at least 11 people. A suicide bomber drove
a bus into the church, and another detonated his car full of
explosives minutes after the end of Sunday mass.
Jaji has been hit in the past by deadly attacks blamed on the
Islamist group Boko Haram.
Boko Haram wants to impose sharia on a country that is
roughly divided between its Christian and Muslim populations.
Christians in the north have appealed to the government and
fellow Christians in the south for help. In a statement in local
newspapers, unnamed faith leaders said: "Christians are frightened
for fear of being attacked at any time, to the extent that those
who are bold enough to still identify with their faith now do so
under cover by hiding their Bibles when going to church."