Nigeria: Muslim Violence Forces Christian Withdrawal from Peace Talks

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

NIGERIA (ANS) -- Violence in Kaduna which has claimed 1000 Christian lives and destroyed 63 churches just this year, "must stop" says the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN),in a report from the U.K-based Barnabas Fund.

For three years, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has engaged in government-backed peace talks in the state of Kaduna with its Muslim counterpart, Jamutu'ul Nasir Islam (JNI). However, after the recent spate of attacks in which Islamic militants burnt down nine churches in Makarfi, CAN leaders say the peace process has been undermined.

As a result of the ongoing violence against Christians, CAN withdrew from the talks April 9 saying, "If we continue to dialogue with people when we doubt their sincerity and commitment to the peace which we are honestly pursuing, then the consequences will be grave, to our peril and enslavement."

North and Middle Belt Nigeria is plagued with frequent outbreaks of rioting between Muslims and Christians. Over 10,000 have been killed in such sectarian violence since 2000 when 12 Muslim-majority states in North Nigeria adopted Islamic law (shari'a).

Further details, quotes and photos on this and other stories may be available for news editors on request to Barnabas Fund.

Barnabas Fund works to support Christian communities mainly, but not exclusively, in the Islamic world where they are facing poverty and persecution.

Barnabas Fund, The Old Rectory, River Street, PEWSEY, Wiltshire, SN9 5DB, UK. Tel: +44(0)1672 564938, Fax: +44(0)1672 565030, E-mail: Web: