The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (RABIIT) on 12 July issued a report on their joint commitment to help in resolving the tensions in Nigeria. The report reflects a new Christian-Muslim model of cooperation for peace between religions and further interfaith dialogue.
The report follows the high level inter-religious delegation’s visit to Abuja, Jos and Kaduna, Nigeria, from 22 to 26 May. The visit and report are a response to the inter-communal strife between Christian and Muslims in the country. Last week, around a hundred people lost their lives in the Plateau state alone as a result of the clashes.
“Religion should never be used as a pretext for conflict. We are committed to the situation in Nigeria. We are concerned and anxious for the lives that are lost in the name of religion in Nigeria,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC.
“Therefore we set out to investigate together first-hand, impartially and credibly, the situation on the ground in Nigeria and the various factors that have led to the present tensions,” added Tveit.
The report discusses the complex reasons behind the violence in Nigeria and suggests that the conflict goes beyond religion. “From what we have witnessed, it seems to me that the primary causes of the current tension and conflict in Nigeria are not inherently based in religion but rather, rooted in a complex matrix of political, social, ethnic, economic, and legal problems, among which the issue of justice – or the lack of it – looms large as a common factor,” said Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, chairman of the RABIIT.
The delegation admired the vast majority of Nigerians who do not want their religion to be used to propagate violence. It voiced hopes that its collaboration will further Christian-Muslim cooperation and empower religious leaders in Nigeria to continue the conversation that they have started.
Both the WCC and the RABIIT plan to work together with individuals and institutions in Nigeria on projects that include developing a common statement for people to sign. Based on both their religious traditions, they pledged themselves to work for the peace and well-being of Nigeria. They hope to initiate theological publications for peace, contributing to the harmony in both Muslim and Christian scriptures.
The delegation to Nigeria was led by the WCC general secretary and Prince Ghazi. During the visit delegates met with government officials, religious leaders, traditional rulers and the families of victims of violence.
Christian and Muslim leaders visit Nigeria (WCC press release of 25 May 2012)
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