BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Somali Swahili French Great Lakes Hausa Portugeuse
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
    You are in: World: Africa  
News Front Page
World
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent
-------------
Letter From America
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 10:03 GMT
Kaduna: Nigeria's religious flashpoint
Soldiers watch people moving dead bodies
More than 200 Kaduna residents were killed in the riots

Theresa Ola, a devout Christian in this majority-Muslim city, walks with me through the rubble of her church.

Crises are inevitable in every society, but a small crisis, if not properly managed, can lead to a big conflagration

Nafiu Baba Ahmed, Muslim leader
Only a shell remains of the imposing building. The walls are blackened, the windows smashed and the collapsed roof is open to the sky. Pages of the Bible blow in the wind across the floor.

For Theresa, such violence against the church in which she worships is incomprehensible. And learning to live in peace with the Muslims who did this will not be easy.

"We can only live side by side if they realise that what they did is wrong. If they can restore these things and realise their fault and say they are sorry we can still live together, but without that there is no peace," she says.

'Myopic'

Just as Christian communities have been devastated by the violence, so too have Muslims. Just a few miles away from the church is a feeding centre for many hundreds of Muslims who lost their homes and livelihoods during the riots.

With babies tied to their backs, and holding onto their children in the crowd, women, heavily veiled has tradition demands, line up to receive their ration of food and clothing.

Injured man in hospital
Many say they were shot by soldiers

In this district, Muslim community leaders, such as Nafiu Baba Ahmed, are frustrated with the failure of government to play a part in reducing tensions between the communities.

"Crises are inevitable in every society, but a small crisis, if not properly managed, can lead to a big conflagration. This is typically what has been happening in this country."

He says he is pessimistic.

"I am, as long as we have this crop of leadership, who see things from a myopic point of view, from a one-track minded angle. It is political, it is political."

Bullet wounds

I have come now to a hospital to see some of the injured. Many people have sustained gunshots wounds and they say that many were caused by security forces, by the army and the police.

"In fact, we had about 200, about 180 were bullets from gunshots. That's almost all, that's about 90% with gunshots. Just very few of them had machete wounds like that.

"Most of them claim that they were shot by the soldier men," says Dr Abdulrahman Sulaiman.

Dr Sulaiman was on duty at the hospital throughout the crisis. And whilst the army did have a difficult job restoring order to a very chaotic situation, questions must be asked about the very high casualty rate inflicted by them on ordinary civilians.

Unaccountable

A local Muslim man, Mohammed Awal, speaks for many caught up in the violence.

"Our security agents actually contributed a lot," he says.

Woman walks past a destroyed church
Churches and mosques were targeted in religious violence

"Instead of them defending the interests of the community they were out and they were one-sided, so we are using this opportunity to call upon the federal government. Let them be sincere in a situation like this, let them give us justice, and not take a side in a situation like this."

It is a measure of unaccountability of the armed forces, that there has as yet been no investigation, formal or otherwise, into their methods of tackling unrest such as in Kaduna.

And, with elections just around the corner in Nigeria, the politicians have been extremely reluctant to speak out to condemn the perpetrators of violence on all sides, for fear of losing support.

Which is not an encouraging sign for those seeking lasting peace between Muslims and Christians across northern Nigeria.


Miss World row

Analysis

Features

BACKGROUND
See also:

04 Dec 02 | Africa
30 Nov 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
29 Nov 02 | Africa
25 Nov 02 | Africa
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes