Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja, has called for dialogue with the Nigerian Muslim community, speaking more than a month after more than 200 girls were abducted from a school by the Islamist group Boko Haram.
His statement comes after Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, decried violent acts committed by terrorist groups.
“Terrorism has no place in Islam,” he said during a prayer session held over the weekend which was organized by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, of which he is president.
“We must rise up as always, with one voice to condemn all acts of terrorism, condemn those terrorists wherever they are and try our best as Muslims to ensure peace reigns in our community,” the sultan said.
Cardinal Onaiyekan congratulated the sultan “for his bold statement,” which he said gave him “the courage to voice, with all good intention, a reflection that has been going through my own mind for some time now.”
The cardinal said that while the recent abduction of the more than 200 school girls is serious, it is a symptom of a wider problem. The issues pertaining to terrorist acts are multifaceted, and need to be addressed not only militarily, but also from the point of view of politics, economics, and religion. Cardinal Onaiyekan said not enough effort was being made with regard to religious issues in particular.
“There seems to be an urgent need for an in-house dialogue within the Nigerian Muslim community,” he said. “Such a dialogue would make it possible to courageously and sincerely deal with currents and movements that create the kind of religious climate and atmosphere in which Boko Haram and similar groups emerge and thrive”.