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March 12, 2010

Three Institutions, Three Different Stories

The recent nighttime attack that resulted in the death of as many as 500 Christians in Nigeria has become something of a Rorschach Test.

The New York Times gave the attack front page coverage and addressed the religious angle in a forthright manner. In an article published on March 11, 2010, reporter Adam Nossiter stated unequivocally that the attack was "an especially vicious expression of long-running hostilities between Christians and Muslims." He even included a quote from a Christian in Nigeria who stated that "Some people want to be rulers every where. It's the Muslims. They said they are born to rule."

America magazine, published by the Jesuits in the U.S., has taken a different tack. The magazine published an article (subscription required) that acknowledged that the attack was an instance of "interreligious violence," but downplayed the religious enmity that motivated the attack:

Archbishop John Onaiyekan, of the Nigerian capital, Abuja, warned against describing the violence as a religious conflict. He told Vatican Radio that the violence was rooted not in religion but in other differences. “International media will say that Christians and Muslims are killing each other,” he said. “But this is not the case because people don’t kill for religion, but for social, economic, tribal and cultural reasons.

“The victims are poor people who don’t have anything to do with all this and are not responsible,” Archbishop Onaiyekan said. “It is a classic conflict between pastoralists and farmers, except that all the Fulani are Muslims and all the Berom are Christians.”

The World Council of Churches has issued two letters and a press release in response to the attack.

None of these documents acknowledge that the attacks were perpetrated by Muslims.

Posted by dvz at March 12, 2010 02:11 PM

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