The inauguration of Nigeria’s new Christian president, Goodluck Jonathan, has set off a new wave of violence against Christians by Muslim extremists in northern Nigeria, including a June 7 blast that killed 11 people and caused extensive damage to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Agenzia Fides is reporting that the latest round of attacks took place in Maiduguri shortly after President Jonathan was inaugurated. The area is the home of a Muslim extremist group, Boko Haram (which means “western education is sacrilege”), which local authorities believe is behind a string of deadly attacks against Christians.
“St. Patrick`s Cathedral was seriously damaged, windows and doors destroyed, the whole building was shaken to its foundations by the violence of the explosion”, said Mgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme. Bishop of Maiduguri.
On the same day, two police stations were also hit in a series of coordinated attacks, leaving a total of 11 people dead.
“The situation in Maiduguri is very tense”, said Mgr. Doeme, recalling that only “two weeks ago, another Catholic church was the target of an attack with explosives, as well as a secondary school.”
Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation, is evenly divided between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south. Problems began when Jonathan, who had been serving out the term of his Muslim predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua who died in office, was elected president in April. Muslims contend the election was rigged, but independent observers say it was one of fairest elections in decades.
More than 60 churches were burned and thousands of Christian-owned homes destroyed since the final tally showed Jonathan had won over Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari.
Last year, Boko Haram, which has a history of violence against Christians, claimed responsibility for bombings in the city of Jos on Christmas Eve that killed dozens of people who were shopping in a busy market in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. The same group also claimed responsibility for attacking several churches in Maidugari on Christmas Eve, killing six people.
Some Nigerian bishops say they believe the conflict is due more to economic and social differences rather than for religious reasons.
Responding to the violence, President Jonathan said “Nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace® http://www.womenofgrace.com