Nigeria’s blashemy rampage sheds light on deeper problems.

By October 4, 2006

Nigeria (MNN)–Recent sectarian violence in Northern Nigeria’s Jigawa state has Christians complaining of being treated like second-class citizens.

Open Doors’ Jerry Dykstra tells us what happened. “There was a comment by a woman allegedly blaspheming against Mohammed.” The alleged blasphemy came in the context of local resentments against comments attributed to Pope Benedict XIV, accused of slandering Islam the previous week in a speech in Germany.

An excuse to trigger a crisis? Local Christians think so. Dykstra says, of the tinderbox situation, “It’s like a ball going down a hill. It keeps getting momentum and then suddenly, what happens is the Christians are being faced with tremendous persecution. The police there do nothing to protect the Christians.”

Open Doors reports that when clerics appealed to police authorities to stop the attacks, which raged for six straight hours, they were ignored.

It remains unclear what was actually said that sparked the rioting. However, the subsequent one-day rampage left 16 churches burned down, six Christians injured and at least 2,000 homeless.

Following the riot, believers were told to rebuild their lives elsewhere. Dykstra says: “Pray that marginalized Christians in northern Nigeria will stand strong in their faith, that the church will not react to these attacks in attacking the Muslims.”

The Sharia law in a dozen states has aggravated the already strained relationship between Muslims and Christians. Dykstra says believers have a standard they are called to, but live it will require much prayer support. “They should act in Christ-like fashion. That’s hard to do when your church has been burned down, your homes, destroyed.”

Since Islamic law was implemented in 2000, Jigawa state has banned the building of new churches and refused to allow Christian students to attend public schools unless they convert to Islam. Pray for those involved in evangelistic work.

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