Anti-U.S. Protests Leave 200 Dead in Nigeria

Muslim-Christian Violence Spurs Weekend of Terror

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ROME, OCT. 15, 2001 ( Confrontations between Christians and Muslims this past weekend resulted in at least 200 dead and hundreds wounded in the city of Kano in northern Nigeria. The attacks followed protests against the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.

Violent incidents continued to rage in that city this morning.

Father Giulio Albanese, director of the Misna missionary agency, said it “all began last Friday, during the traditional Muslim prayer. When the prayer was over, the people came out of the mosques and the demonstrations began, which at first seemed to have a rather spontaneous character.”

“The fact is that later many villains began to shout slogans against the United States: ´Allah, curse America!´” he said. “The confrontations continued throughout the night and, unfortunately, both the army as well as the police were unable to contain the violence of these fanatics, who also burned stores and places of worship.”

“Numerous Christians tried to flee from the city,” Father Albanese said. “Terror reigned for 48 hours. The risk is that these demonstrations against the United States will spread to other Muslim-majority states of northern Nigeria.”

Misna´s director speculated on the motives behind the violence.

“The Muslim fundamentalist world wishes to become the champion of the interests of the peoples of the South of the planet, affirming first and foremost the option of a theocracy,” he said.

“In a word, fundamentalist Islam is unable to make the distinction between the secularism of the state and the religious aspect,” the priest added. “In addition, the Shariah, or Islamic law, is frequently imposed. Thus, real injustices are committed against religious minorities.”

Father Albanese believes that “the only hope consists in really stressing the way of dialogue, especially in formation, because, unfortunately, these events are symptoms of the great ignorance with which many speculate. There are people who are easy to manipulate by these extremist groups, who want the ´holy war´ at all costs.”

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