Sectarian attacks spread throughout Nigeria.

By March 1, 2006

Nigeria (MNN)–Religious violence between Christians and Muslims is spreading throughout Nigeria. Several accounts indicate the fighting is the worst to hit Nigeria since 2004 when sectarian clashes killed more than 700 people.

Thousands of Nigerians have died in sectarian strife since 2000, when mostly Muslim northern states began implementing Islamic Shariah law.

The most recent violence followed protests over the publication in Europe of controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad that have enraged Muslims worldwide.

Over the last two weeks, riots were reported in Potiskum in northeastern Yobe state, Kontagora in northern Niger state and Enugu, capital of southeastern Enugu state.

The Bible League’s Joseph Owens says it’s a vicious cycle of reprisals. There was concern too. He spoke with staff living in Northern Nigeria. “We offered to evacuate our staff in these areas and they all said ‘no’. They wanted to stay–so, they’re on high alert. Their families have been moved to safe places and we’re just being cautious at this point.’

Owens says the need for their teams is greater than ever. “Even in northern Nigeria, we’ve placed over 60-thousand Hausa Bibles. Every one of those Bibles is given through personal contacts between Christians and Muslims or animists.”

It’s that need which keeps the teams moving forward despite the risk. The Bible League reports show that there are more than 10 million Nigerian Christians who have no Bible, and thousands more are coming to Christ every day with no hope of receiving God’s Word to enrich their faith.

So, even with the turmoil as an undercurrent, Bible League staff doggedly completed a revision of the 106-year-old Yoruba Bible, which was officially dedicated during a ceremony February 18th in Ibadan. The first shipments of the new Yoruba Bible are scheduled to arrive in Nigeria later this month.

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