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Terrorism and the surge of religion related violence in Nigeria

06.01.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Nigeria is a multi-religious country, with a fairly equally balanced proportion of Christians and Muslims, and a small minority adhering to traditional religions. The statistics of the breakdown of religious groups are either unavailable, unreliable or out of date, and, hence, highly contested. In Christian and Muslim religious conflict, the religious leaders, together with the government in Nigeria need to be given the mandate and ownership of peace brokering.

POSSIBLE CAUSES OF CONFLICT

Conflict is referred to as an expression of the heterogeneity of interests, values, and beliefs that arise as new formations generated by social change come up against inherited constraints.

Many factors are responsible for religious violence in Nigeria. However, to do justice, it will be proper to classify these factors according to the nature of the violence. Nigeria has experienced both intra and inter-religious violence.

It is worth noting that most outbreaks of inter-religious violence in Nigeria were between Islam and Christianity. About intra-religious violence, two major reasons can be identified. Firstly, there is ignorance or half knowledge of the true teaching of the very religion that the people involved claim to be defending.

The second reason is the economic factor as a cause of religious violence in Nigeria. Although the country is blessed with both human and natural resources, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is ever on the increase and this has led to frustration and disillusion among average Nigerians on the lower side of the economy. While many of them turn to outright criminal activities, many others turn to churches and mosques. That has also led to proliferation of churches and mosques having extreme tendencies.

Moreover; other identified reasons for the conflict includes the fact that Muslims in particular, believe that Christianity does not recognize Islam as a religion that is entitled to exist and, consequently, it does not recognize their (Muslims) other rights. There is also a lack of genuine desire to understand each other’s belief and culture. Extremism from both sides is another important reason behind religious violence in Nigeria. In most cases this extremism is based on poor knowledge of the teaching of the religion being defended by the group involved.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

To put an end to religious violence in Nigeria, researchers suggests that the government, groups, and individuals have very important roles to play in their respective capacities. Government should set up a religious committee made up of religious leaders and intellectuals from the major religious groups in the country with representation from all the federal states. This committee should serve as a regulatory body for all religious activities in the country. It will also serve as regulatory body for all religious activities in the country. It will also serve as an advisory body to the government and link between various religious groups.

Furthermore; the government, through the religious advisory committee should ban any kind of preaching that involve criticism, condemnation, and abuse of other religions. Likewise; any book that contains criticism, condemnation, or negative impression of other religion should be outlawed. If it is possible for manufacturers of two brands of the same drug to advertise their products without necessarily discrediting each other, it therefore should also be possible for the leaders of each religion to sell their religion to others without doing so at the expense of the other religion. When set up, the religious advisory committee should embark on genuine dialogue and reconciliation aimed at bringing about the spirit of peaceful coexistence. Such dialogue should focus attention on identifying areas of disagreement so that they can be resolved or avoided. It should also identify areas of abuses such as the ones mentioned above and do away with them if possible through enabling legislation.

Lastly, the government should attempt to encourage the teaching of genuine dialogue at all levels of education. If religious leaders teach people with all sincerity that they should tolerate and respect other religion they will certainly do. Religious leaders should learn to tolerate and respect others’ faiths and accept them as part of the reality of life, to live with some things one does not necessarily have to like them.

Therefore, all involved stakeholders and interested parties should strike an accord that denounces violence and proper structures should be set up to ensure that the lives of those involved are spared.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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