Muslims and Christians Unite Against the Tide of Terrorism to Advance Peace in Nigeria
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Dear Esteemed Colleagues:
Christians and Muslims are uniting in Nigeria to reject the violence advanced by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Last Friday (30 January 2012), this violent group killed at least 184 people and raised the specter of an escalating spiral of violence. Yesterday, police found large numbers of explosives, including ten cars packed with explosives, linked to the group. It is the shared view of many Nigerian Muslims and Christians that Boko Haram grossly distorts the Islamic religion by claiming it as a justification for its violent terrorism.
When terror is intentionally being used to foment fear, mistrust and hostility between religious groups, we are all especially in need of principled multi-religious leadership.
In that light, I am pleased to share that His Grace John Onaiyekan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, and a Religions for Peace International Co-President and Co-Moderator of Religions for Peace Africa, has joined with his Nigerian Muslim colleagues, to advance a united front of Muslims and Christians demanding the rejection of violence.
This is the kind of courageous leadership we all need. Religions for Peace is proud of our Nigeria Muslim and Christian colleagues who are working together against the tide of terrorism to advance peace.
You would, I felt, appreciate Archbishop John’s note and recent speeches as an example of the wise and courageous leadership needed. I will also be sharing the speeches of our wonderful Islamic partners as these become available.
In solidarity for peace, I remain
Dr. William F. Vendley
Enclosures:Archbishop Onaiyaiken’s note to Dr. Vendley (shared with permission) opening remarks and speech
A Letter from His Grace Rev. Dr. John Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, and a Religions for Peace International Co-President and Co-Moderator of Religions for Peace Africa to Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General Religions for Peace
Friday, 20 January 2012
Peace be with you!
Some hours ago, news reached us of very serious bombs killing and maiming scores of innocent people in the Northern city of Kano. The targets were security agencies: police, immigration, state security services, etc. The message is clear: the actors are taking on the Nigerian state.
While claiming to be Islamic, they are killing Nigerians at random irrespective of religion. Perhaps the only good thing out of this madness is that most people now agree with me that we are not dealing here with Muslims attacking Christians for religious reasons. I hope this will lead us all to put our heads together to deal with the group of terrorists. While our government seems to be taken totally unawares, we are left with little more than prayers!
But this is not why I am writing to you at 1.10am. Rather, I wanted to share with you the good news that despite the tense moments we are living through, or perhaps even because of it, we inaugurated our "Abuja Interfaith Peacebuilding Forum" on Wednesday evening at the National Mosque. The preliminary meeting was held in my house, and at my invitation. The event, though very modest in dimension, was given very wide coverage in the local media.
This is an idea that I have been nursing with a Muslim friend of the National Mosque. The events of Christmas Day until now have made us decide to take action. The forum was inaugurated with ten persons from both camps, including four women, 2 from each camp.
I am sending by attachment the opening address I presented at the occasion. It served as guide for the discussions leading to the inauguration of the forum. You can surely see the language of Religions for Peace in the paper. I shall update you on any further developments.
I am also sending you a "Pastoral Message" I directed to be read in all our Catholic Churches last Sunday. This is against the background of an atmosphere of many negative rumours that Muslims were about to attack and eliminate Christians from Nigeria. Although the rumours are to me quite ludicrous, many have taken them seriously and were even moving their families to what they considered safer places. I thought that I needed to help my people to look at issues with a more calm mind. Feed back says that the message calmed many nerves and gave assurance that we are still in a functioning state. We need your prayers.
I hope you are well. Best regards to all our New York friends.
John Onaiyekan, Archbishop.