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Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Why do Christians and Muslims quarrel?
Religious violence has broken out again in the Northern Nigerian City of Kaduna.
President Obasanjo's year in power has been bedevilled by both ethnic and religious violence and whole communities have been forced to flee for their lives back to their home areas.
Why is it that Christians and Muslims find it so hard to live in peace together? Tell us what you think.
I read with mixed feelings the views expressed or attributed to the quarrel between Christians and Muslims. For any phenomenon, when we move from normal to fundamentalism, then problems inevitably arise. Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have co-existed without war. It is the introduction of shariah which is, in my personal opinion, equal to fundamentalism, that is driving Christians to craziness.
E-man Ochieke, Nigeria
The only way in which Christians and Muslems can live together without harm is to have a constitution that separates Church and State.
This is an unfortunate disaster in Africa. It is supposed to be the time in which Africans need to fight against poverty and disease, but they turn on each other. Let us work together and care for each so we can make a difference.
This is yet another example of many why religion has plagued us for many centuries.
Kumsa Fida, Ethiopia
Africans are very tribalistic, and suspicious of anyone who is not of their tribe. If you closely examine Nigerian politics, you have the Christian / Muslim divide, the North / South divide, the language divide, the tribal divide, the village divide, right down to the compound divide. Until individuals learn to live peacefully with one another, respect each other and think for themselves, they will always find reasons to fight and kill.
I do not believe Christians are telling Muslims how to live their lives. If you research Sharia law as it is practised in some other Islamic countries, you will find that it affects everyone living within that particular area, be they Christian or Muslim. Christians are concerned that they will be forced into a lifestyle which is not of their choosing or belief. Some common ground has to be reached between the two religious groups, or there will never be peace.
I feel there is a lot of clamour for redressing of past injustices meted out to the ordinary people. Outright poverty, lack of basic human needs is driving people to the brink of not really caring what happens to them afterwards. The people have lost hope completely that something good will come to them under any kind of government. Hence, the passive attitude.
Jesus Christ is love. Mohammed preached submission to the will of God. Those fiends slitting one another's throats in Nigeria neither love nor submit their will to God.
Yohannes Tadesse, USA
In Nigeria people count their group affiliations from the bottom up: family first, then 'tribe', then religion and then maybe Nigerian citizenship. Incidentally, religion tends to be divided along ethnic lines, which doesn't help. There isn't one Nigerian culture and there is no strong sense of national identity which could gloss over internal differences.
The simple truth is that like in other parts of the world, these senseless killings are the work of selfish and evil-minded individuals, who have become sophisticated in exploiting all kinds of petty differences among our long-suffering people.
Muslims preach violence and hatred against other religious groups. I went to Islamic school and all the teacher taught us was how bad other religions are. He used to say that Islam was the only true religion. I stopped going and went to church instead where I found peace. Until Nigerians wake up and preach peace and mean it from their hearts, the killing will continue.
Onum A. Esonu, USA/ Nigeria
I suppose the problem really stemmed from the Crusades. Diplomacy at that time was nearly non-existence and most problems, even minor ones, were resolved through all-out wars. Problems which arose such a long time ago and spilled so much blood are not likely to be resolved through diplomacy. This is why we still see the classic rivalry between Christians and Muslims.
It is important for both Christians and Muslims to learn how to live with each other in peace and accept each other's views. If one focused on God and His true word then there would not be room for anyone to focus on violence.
Peter R. Kaiza, Tanzania/ England
Why should Christians in Nigeria try to tell Muslims how to live their lives? Is this democracy?
In Africa, society has lost its culture and so its values. Due to high levels of poverty, people are so dissatisfied that they are willing to go to extreme religions hoping that this will help them get "spiritually" rich at least. With extreme religion comes hatred and fighting and even killing one another.
These so-called fundamentalists who are fighting for God have forgotten the one principle that is universal and is found in every religion - to live in peace. Religion does not preach to anyone to seek complete dominance but to simply be in touch with our gentle side. Such a simple concept, yet many people cannot seem to follow or believe it.
Christians and Muslims can live together in peace in Northern Nigeria as in Southern Nigeria. Those who won elections in Northern Nigeria are mainly those who do not believe that democracy is the government of the people, by the people to the people but rather a convenient environment for oppression. Most of those governors do not have the least idea of governing so they try to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state by the sword.
The "if you are not one of us, you are against us" ideology is an underlying factor behind this endless religious conflict. In Nigeria, belonging to the same ethnic or religious sect is a sign of common bond, communion or brotherhood. The person on the other side is always perceived as an enemy or a competitor. Nigerians should think and live beyond ethnic and religious realms then they will be able to respect each other's principles and beliefs.
When humans are born, we are born as an empty template; our beliefs and values become a function of our environment and life experience. If we are born into a Muslim society there is a very high probability that we will adopt almost all values and beliefs of that Muslim society, vice versa for Christians. There are countries where the conflict between Christians and Muslims never goes beyond the hot friendly debate among friends or scholars. People in those societies have traditionally never sought a violent solution to their differences; therefore their children learn and adopt this method of thinking. There is living proof around the world that it's possible for Muslims and Christians to live in harmony without violent conflict.
I am a Christian from the city of Kaduna and I wish to say that this violence is being orchestrated by the people who have got nothing to lose, because most Christians and Muslims alike do not support the destruction of lives and property all in the name of religion [both] that preaches peace.
Since that time they could not and have not been able to think beyond their religions. Their sense of innovation is gone making them dependent on outsiders. As industrial revolution came about in Christendom coupled up with colonialism the followers of Christianity assumed that edge of superiority as they assumed the moral high ground over the Muslims. They became educated, occupied important positions in government etc to the amazement of the Muslims who are always in the majority and basically illiterate.
So, until the black African abandons both religions and settles for the one taken into the Americas by the slaves, something that has a common denominator for all black Africans, I am afraid there will never be peace between both groups and this will be a permanent cause of division among black Africans.
Sorian Kamara, Sierra Leone
The people who brought Christianity and Islam to Africa, imposed their religion in a way that it has made Africans lose their sense of direction.
We, the people of the world need to check our morality with the criterion of our religions. This will allow us to move mankind forward to God's truth.
Sadly, some people believe they are benefiting from this mayhem; either inside or outside of Nigeria. In fact they are contributing to the destruction of mankind.
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