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Christian religious leaders keep fighting against persecution in Nigeria

Christian religious leaders continue to play their role in ensuring that the violence in Nigeria does not transition into a religious war, a Catholic Theologian has said, and challenged Muslim leaders to condemn extremism in the West African nation.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Stan Chu Ilo, a Research Professor in the Department of Catholic Studies at DePaul University in the U.S. called on the Muslim religious leaders in Nigeria to start undoing what he described as a deeply rooted religious discord perpetrated by Islamists who emerged in the country decades ago. 

The discord, he said during the February 17 interview, has seen a protracted persecution of Christians in Africa’s most populous country. 

Fr. Stan said he found it baffling that whenever an Islamist is found responsible for an attack against a Christian in Nigeria today, Muslim leaders are usually quick to disassociate themselves from the culprits.

“Whenever you talk with the Muslims about the violence, they often deny that perpetrators of the heinous crimes are not Muslims. They say ‘these are not our people’. But clearly, these people don’t come to our churches,” Fr. Stan said.

He added, “What the Muslim leaders are denying is that the violence, mostly perpetrated by Islamist groups who are against Christians, is a failure of their system. The crime is a function of how the Muslim leaders have socialized, and continue to socialize their children and young people.”

“Muslim leaders need to reexamine what children and young people are taught in Quranic schools. They need to look at what they teach these young people concerning their relationships with others who do not subscribe to Islam,” Fr. Stan said.

The widely published Theologian decries what he describes as the “negative characterization of Christianity, which can be heard in mosques today”, adding,

“Young people in Quranic schools are constantly warned that Christians are trying to dominate the country. And because of this, Churches are burnt down and Christians are killed. Yet Muslim leaders continue to deny responsibility in these killings.”

Islamization in Nigeria, Fr. Stan said, is characterized by “deeply rooted prejudice, bitterness and miseducation” that he said has “spilled into cultural and religious imagination of the people.”

In the interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Stan challenges Muslim leaders to solidify their work with their Christian counterparts, and in so doing, to delegitimize activists of Islamist groups in Nigeria.

Source: ACI Africa

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