Nigeria flares in religious violence

By October 11, 2007

Nigeria (MNN) — The destruction from the religious riots in
Nigeria's Kano State is still being assessed. The riots came late last month,
the cause of which is slowly coming to light.

Voice of the Martyrs Canada's Glenn Penner says it started
when "a group of Muslim students barged into a room that was shared by some Christian students at a local secondary school.  When the principal arrived on the scene, the
Muslims said that these two fellows had drawn a picture of Mohammed on a local
mosque and were now planning an attack on Muslim students."

The situation continued to escalate, resulting in a riot
which left at least nine Christians dead. More than 50 people were injured, and more than 500 members of the minority Christian population were displaced. Although it has not been front page news, the sectarian violence has
never stopped. It was simply
overshadowed by other crises.

Penner explains that this latest event was the latest in a
series of deadly religious clashes in Africa's most populous nation of 140
million, which is almost equally split between adherents of the two religions.

Worse, it's unlikely the whole truth will ever be fully
revealed about the riots. Authorities have removed all corpses in a likely
attempt to obscure the true death toll. Local police have also sealed off the
area and denied access to those seeking to provide assistance.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports indicate that three
pastors from the state capital were detained when they tried to evacuate
members of their denomination. Three Christian members of the Nigerian Air
Force who were accompanying them were also detained. The pastors have since
been released on bail. The other three remain in custody.

In all of this, there's a question of whether or not the
violence quells evangelistic fervor. 
Penner says, "Nigerian Christians do continue to reach out and to
spread the Gospel. Of course, there is concern and fear of violence, and
Christians in the North are asking, 'Is it necessary for us to move to the
south as well?'"

Church leaders are urging people not to retaliate or inflame
the situation further. "Pray that
they'll be able to teach and instill in their young men, particularly, how to
respond to persecution in a Christ-like fashion."

Pray that Christians will rely on the Holy Spirit to
comfort, strengthen and embolden them in the aftermath of this brutal attack.
Pray that those who have lost loved ones will find peace in the fact that those
who suffer with Christ will be glorified with Him. Pray that the three detained
believers will be released.

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