Pope Condemns Christian-Muslim Clashes in Nigeria

Caused by Protests Against Attacks on Afghanistan

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II condemned the confrontations between Christians and Muslims that broke out last Friday in Nigeria.

“Another episode of cruel violence has been added to the tragic world situation of these days: more than 200 dead and hundreds of wounded,” the Pontiff said today when he addressed thousands of pilgrims at the general audience in St. Peter´s Square.

The clashes began in Kano, the northern Nigerian city with the greatest number of Muslims. Following prayers in the mosques, protests were organized against the British-U.S. military attacks on Afghanistan.

“Whoever has occasioned these unjustifiable acts is responsible before God,” the Pope said. He expressed his solidarity and spiritual closeness to the bishop of Kano and “all those who weep over the loss of dear ones.”

“I pray to God that he will help all to find the path of fraternity again,” the Holy Father added. “Only in this way will it be possible to respond to God´s expectations, who wills to make of humanity one single human family.”

Agence France-Presse reported that on Sept. 11 many Muslims in northern Nigeria celebrated the attacks on the United States. On Oct. 7, more than 3,000 Muslims joined a demonstration in Kano to show support for Osama bin Laden.

Half of Nigeria´s 126 million inhabitants are Christians, and half are Muslims. The country has endured several violent interreligious explosions since its return to a democratic regime in May 1999.

Ten northern states with a Muslim majority have adopted Shariah, or Islamic law. The moves, considered unconstitutional, have met with opposition from federal authorities as well as Christians living in those states.

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