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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
African press warns of 'religious war'
Africa Media Watch
In the wake of the attacks on New York and Washington, many African newspapers have cautioned against responding to the crisis along religious lines.

The issue resonates with particular force in Nigeria, where only this month violent clashes between Christians and Muslims in the city of Jos left scores of people dead.

The Lagos-based Vanguard talks of the "pressing danger" of a "religious war" and says impressions are being created in Nigeria that cloud the real issues at stake.

By rushing headlong into collectively punishing Afghans... the US will reinforce a growing conviction among Muslims that its battle cry heralds a latter-day crusade

The paper urges the US not to adopt a blanket approach to the war on terrorism.

"We caution that, unlike the terrorists, America cannot afford to punish the innocent with the guilty."

"As a bastion of democracy... the US must not be seen to be arbitrary".

"Latter-day crusade"

An editorial in the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram speaks of a growing Muslim disquiet.

"By rushing headlong into collectively punishing Afghans for a crime whose perpetrators have not yet even been established, the US will reinforce a growing conviction among Muslims that its battle cry heralds a latter-day crusade - a term fraught with sinister and bitter implications."

Senegal's Walfadjri L'Aurore picks up the theme in an editorial where it advises that "equating Islam with terrorism is a dangerous oversimplification".

Victim of the violence in Jos beside his burnt-our car
The violence in the Nigerian city of Jos claimed many victims
"Do terrorists really adhere just to one camp?" it asks.

A commentary in Kenya's Daily Nation also warns against "inflaming Islamic societies everywhere".

And it predicts a scenario of widespread regional destabilisation in the aftermath of what it says would be a "counterproductive military solution".

"Then the house would really fall in," it says.

Common enemy

In an editorial entitled "How the US Should Respond", Ethiopia's Addis Tribune advocates a united world-wide response to the threat of terrorist attacks.

Muslim and non-Muslim must unite against their common enemy

Addis Tribune

It advises that "the root causes of terrorism - which is partly a result of a widespread sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world of being a victim of US bias against them - must be addressed, because otherwise an effective long-term solution to the problem will remain elusive."

"It should not be forgotten, furthermore, that Muslims died in the recent terrorist attacks on the US and that Muslim nations are also victims of fundamentalist terrorists."

The writer ends with a rallying call: "In fighting this new war against terrorism, the nations of the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, must unite against their common enemy".

"Globalised madness"

An editorial in Algeria's La Tribune also urges people not to gear up for a fight against Islam.

The writer says the world needs to realise that it is getting ready for a war "not against Islam, but against terrorism".

Do we really have to fall into mass madness by resorting to bombings and attacks against 'the other'?

La Tribune
He says anti-Muslim sentiment could bring about a "widespread conflagration which the six billion souls, living on a planet already strongly shaken by a multitude of conflicts, will find it difficult to extricate themselves from".

And he concludes by warning in no uncertain terms against a wave of violence which he says could assume mass proportions.

"Do we really have to fall into mass madness by resorting to bombings and attacks against 'the other'?", the writer asks.

"A Muslim is not necessarily a member of Al-Qaeda, just like a Christian is not necessarily affiliated to the extreme right... It is imperative that the world refuses to let itself be carried away by this globalised madness".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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