Churches Burned in Nigeria Riots; Death Toll Passes 127

|PIC1|Sectarian violence sparked by cartoons of Islam’s most revered figure spread to three more Nigerian cities before the end of last week, resulting in the burning of five churches and pushing the total death toll to more than 127.

Armed with machetes and clubs, Muslim youths in the northern Nigerian city of Potiskum on Friday attacked shops owned by mostly Christians and burned churches reported resident Ibrahim Dagbugur according to The Associated Press. It took police several hours to quell the riot that claimed the lives of four people.

The violence followed weeklong protests and violence starting Feb. 18 when Nigerian Muslims demonstrating in the northern and predominantly Muslim city of Bauchi targeted Christians and killed 18 people.

Caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad – first printed in September by a Danish newspaper and reprinted in European media and elsewhere – have sparked angry protests by Muslims worldwide who consider any depiction of Allah and their prophets to be blasphemy.

Recent fighting is the worst to hit Nigeria since 2004 when Muslim-Christians clashes in northern Nigeria killed more than 700 people. Nigeria is almost entirely split between a northern Muslim population and a predominantly Christian south.

|AD|Experts have pointed out that although on the surface the violence appear to be religiously motivated, many of the past “Christian-Muslim clashes” in Nigeria were linked to ethnic, economic, and political conflicts with religious overtones.

Beside Potiskum in northeastern Yobe state, Kontagora in northern Niger state and Enugu, capital of southeastern Enugu state were also sites of violence on Friday.

In Kontagora, ten churches were burned and two people killed a resident told AP.

The mainly Christian southeastern city of Enuga witnessed at least one person killed by mobs that attacked ethnic Hausa Muslims.

According to AP, out of the 127 people killed this week in sectarian fighting in Nigeria, 80 died in the southeastern city of Onitsha.

Michelle Vu
Christian Today Correspondent