Causes of Nigerian Violence Debated

Even though the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom named Nigeria a “country of particular concern” on May 1, Catholic Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, has said that the so-called religious violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria is not, in fact, about religion—a view that has been endorsed by the Sultan of Sokoto, one of Nigeria’s leading Muslims. These “are matters between groups with special interests,” the archbishop said during a meeting with members of the commission. Archbishop Onaiyekan attributed the conflicts to the corruption of politicians. Nigeria is an example of how opinions about religious freedom in a country can differ widely between international activists and a country’s native clergy. According to the commission, a country is designated as a country of concern when its government has “engaged in or tolerated systematic and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.”

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