As if Nigeria doesn’t have enough problems on its hands … it being the source of many an Internet scam, as well as the homeland of an accused al-Qaeda terrorist … there’s been some fighting going on between Christians and Muslims in the city of Jos, as the Christian Science Monitor explains (WebCite archived article):

Sectarian violence continued for a third day in the Nigerian city of Jos, and appeared to be spreading to surrounding suburbs, as the state government announced a 24-hour curfew to bring Christian-Muslim fighting to a halt.

Officials at Jos’s Central Mosque, where most of the Muslim dead have been brought to be buried, say that 139 bodies have been found thus far, but other reports say that the death toll may be much higher, perhaps beyond 200. Residents told human rights workers that gunfire continued throughout the day, even after the Nigerian Army was called in to help police to rein in the violence.

This city happens to be in a middle ground between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim populations:

Jos -– an acronym for “Jesus Our Savior” which reflects the influence of Christian missionaries –- is right on the dividing line between the northern half of the country that is predominantly Muslim and the southern half of the country that is mainly Christian. Tensions between these two communities have flared intermittently since independence in 1960, and even political parties mirror the divide by splitting primarily along religious lines.

The violence in Jos may be related to a power-struggle going on at the country’s highest level:

It is unclear how much the rioting in Jos is affected by national politics, but a political crisis in which the Muslim president Umaru Yar’Adua has spent the last two months in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, refusing to cede official power to his Christian vice president Goodluck Jonathan, cannot have helped relations between Christians and Muslims.

Many Muslim politicians say they would refuse to allow power to shift, even temporarily, to Vice President Jonathan, calling instead for a fresh round of elections in which only Muslim candidates could run. In order to keep peace, for many years there’s been an unofficial agreement to alternate the presidency between Christians and Muslims.

Since provincial authorities are mostly Christian, sending in the more-neutrally-perceived Army may actually relieve some of the tension rather than escalate the violence in Nigeria.

At any rate, isn’t it curious how the “religion of peace” (i.e. Islam) and the “religion of love” (i.e. Christianity) could produce violence of this kind?

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