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NIGERIA: Christians won’t turn cheek for Muslims, says bishop

LAGOS, 6 December 2002 (IRIN) - The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Sunday Mbang, said on Thursday Christians will in future retaliate for any acts of violence carried out by Muslim militants against their churches or members.

Mbang, who is also the bishop of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, said President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government failed to give Christians adequate protection during the sectarian violence that erupted last month in the northern city of Kaduna over the country’s hosting of the Miss World pageant.

More than 200 people were killed in four days of violence following Muslim fury at a Thisday newspaper article that suggested prophet Mohammed would have approved of the beauty contest and may have chose one the contestants for a wife.

CAN is the umbrella organisation of all Christian denominations in Nigeria.

"Nigerian Christians are completely disgusted with the seemingly insatiable desire by some misguided Muslim brothers to take lives and property at the slightest excuse," he said. "We no longer want to turn the other cheek."

Mbang said Christians will no longer "fold our arms while our brethren in any part of the country" are being attacked and killed.

The CAN position reflects a hardening of positions in the two main religious groups in the country of 120 million. The authorities in the pro-Muslim Zamfara State had declared a fatwa or death edict on Isioma Daniel, the Thisday reporter whose wrote the controversial article.

Nigeria has suffered spells of religious violence claiming thousands of lives since 12 states in the country’s predominantly Islamic north began to adopt the strict Shari’ah legal code in the past two years. Most Christians and non-Muslims, who are dominant in southern Nigeria, view the new legal codes as attempts at Islamisation of the whole country.

Theme (s): Human Rights,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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