Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 22 September 2006
Cathedral and churches burned in Nigeria as angry Muslims riot in Dutse:
Barnabas Fund launches an appeal
Christians have again come under attack by mobs of angry Muslims in Northern Nigeria. The rioting apparently started following an allegation that a Christian woman had made insulting comments about Muhammad.
On 19th September in the city of Dutse, in the northern Nigerian state of Jigawa, a mob of Muslim youths set upon the Christian minority in the city. St. Peter's Anglican Cathedral was burnt to the ground and the Bishop's office destroyed. Initial reports speak of between 4 and 10 other churches as well as shops, vehicles and homes belonging to Christians having been set ablaze. There are believed to be 15 churches locally, so 10 would amount to two-thirds of all the churches in the area. Several people were injured. According to some reports the state governor was himself attacked when he tried to calm the mob and was hurriedly taken away from the area. The mob was only quelled when hundreds of heavily armed police belatedly began to patrol the city.
The context of the Pope's speech
The Muslim world was already uproar in response to a quotation about jihad cited by Pope Benedict XVI on 12th September. There have been attacks against Christians in the Palestinian territories, Somalia and Iraq. See other article - [Link]
There have also been many verbal protests. The Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a so-called moderate who had justified violence in the past, called for today 22nd September to be a "day of rational anger" across the world and warned Muslims not to attack churches. Sadly his warning against violence does not seem to have been heeded.
Meanwhile, certain Muslim leaders and groups have issued further statements showing a violent intent. The Ansar al-Sunna group in Iraq called the Pope a "stupid pig" and a "blasphemer", and urged Muslims to do more than just protest. Al-Qaeda in Iraq publicly threatened Christians saying, "We will destroy the cross - then all that will be accepted will be conversion or the sword (death). May God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen (those who engage in jihad)."Barnabas Fund's International Director, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo commented,
"Muslims are always saying that Islam is a religion of peace. But many Christians in the Muslim world know differently. For them, Islam has been and remains a religion which metes out violence. Otherwise, why should Islam's followers attack and destroy them so often? Muslims must have the courage now to address this part of their faith and stop these attacks on Christians."
Aid for victims of Dutse rioting
Barnabas Fund is launching an appeal to help the Christian victims of the Dutse rioting. Nigerian church leaders say the immediate needs are for food and clothing. Later it will be necessary to rebuild churches and homes which have been destroyed.
Please click this [Link] to donate online using our secure server. (Please quote project reference 39-639 when you send your gift.)
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0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK.(Please quote project reference 39-639 when you send your gift.)
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