Nigeria Violence Rekindled in Wake of Attacks on U.S.

But African Bishop Contends the Conflict Is Ethnic, Not Religious

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LAGOS, Nigeria, SEPT. 13, 2001 ( The terrorist attacks against the United States have rekindled the ethnic conflict in Nigeria.

The Italian newspaper Avvenire reported today that some Muslims in the city of Jos celebrated the massacres in New York and Washington. Since last Friday, there have been confrontations between the Christians and Muslims in Jos, because of the adoption of Islamic law.

Eyewitnesses said that after hearing reports on the attack on the United States, young Muslims took to the streets crying, «Allah is the greatest.»

The army was able to control the violence that broke out in the city-center immediately, but confrontations spread to other neighborhoods, raising the number of dead, since last Friday, to 500.

Some of the Nigerian Catholic bishops, holding their second plenary meeting in Lagos, have condemned the recent attacks in Jos and in the United States, describing them as dastardly acts against humanity.

Though the clashes in Nigeria started in the wake of imposition of Shariah, or Islamic law, Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan, vice president of the country´s episcopal conference, pointed to other motives involved.

«We note that the crisis in Jos and environs is not a religious war,» he contended. «And we plead with our politicians and media practitioners to stop giving that connotation of religious animosity. It is mostly an ethnic affair and let the issue be addressed properly.»

Archbishop Alaba Job lamented that the violence is not restricted to Nigeria´s north.

«It is happening in other dioceses, though not assuming the name of Shariah or religion,» he said. «[Children] whose parents are born in particular states and they themselves grow up in other states, cannot get employment or enjoy other facilities available in that state. This is an issue that our government should look into because such an act is a disservice to Nigeria.»

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