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Religious Leaders in Nigeria Call for Peace and Interreligious Cooperation

from Leadership, Nigeria

Most Rev. John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, on Wednesday advised Christians to always control their anger and avoid revenge irrespective of the circumstances they find themselves.

Onaiyekan gave the advice in Madalla, Niger, on Wednesday on the occasion of a funeral mass at the St Theresa’s Catholic Church, for victims of the Dec. 25, 2011 bomb blast.

He urged the worshippers to move from natural feelings to “the living springs of our faith.

“If we have learnt to see the hand of God in all that happen to us, we must see it, especially in events like the Christmas Day bomb blast, which left us totally shattered.

“We must go beyond nature and overcome natural instincts of anger and, perhaps, even vengeance.’’

Onaiyeka said the injunction of the Lord was clear: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who treat you badly’’.

“We must draw on the grace of Christ for such spirit for forgiveness as Christ on the cross gave the example when he prayed for those who were persecuting him,’’ he said.

Onaiyekan also prayed that those in charge of the nation’s security and safety would have the wisdom to know how best to tackle security challenges as they occur.

“We pray for God’s protection on our security agents who often find themselves in the line of fire in the course of their duties,’’ he said.

In his message, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Mathew Kukah, said religious leaders across the faiths must stand up and face the challenge of the times by offering “a leadership that focuses on service to humanity’’.

“These are troubled times for our country; I say so because amidst this confusing debris of hate, anger and frustration, we have had some very interesting dimensions.

“As Nigerians, Christians and Muslims, we must stand together to ensure that our resources are well utilised for the common good.

“These are difficult times but they are also times of promise; our country has turned its back on all forms of dictatorships.
“Our hands are on the plough and we are resolutely committed to democracy,’’ Kukah said.

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Christians and Muslims Unite at Nigeria Protest

By Jon Gambell
From Huffington Post

LAGOS, Nigeria — A human wave of more than 20,000 surrounded the Muslim faithful as they prayed toward Mecca Friday, as anti-government demonstrations over spiraling fuel prices and corruption showed unity among protesters despite growing sectarian tensions in Africa’s most populous nation.

While violence sparked by religious and ethnic divisions left about 1,500 people dead last year alone in Nigeria, some hope the ongoing protests gripping the oil-rich nation will bring together a country that already suffered through a bloody civil war.

“It shows that Nigeria is now coming together as one family,” said Abdullahi Idowu, 27, as he prepared to wash himself before Friday prayers.

Labor unions, meanwhile, announced Friday they would halt their five-day strike for the weekend, allowing families stuck largely inside their homes to go to markets and rest. Union leaders also plan to meet President Goodluck Jonathan and government officials on Saturday for new negotiations, just ahead of a promised labor shutdown of Nigeria’s oil industry.

Nigeria, which produces about 2.4 million barrels of crude a day, is the fifth-largest oil exporter to the U.S. While the country has a several-week stock of oil ready for export, the threatened shutdown Sunday could shake oil futures as traders remained concerns about worldwide supply.

The strike began Monday, paralyzing the nation of more than 160 million people. The root cause remains gasoline prices: President Goodluck Jonathan’s government abandoned subsidies that kept gasoline prices low Jan. 1, causing prices to spike from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents per liter). The costs of food and transportation also largely doubled in a nation where most people live on less than $2 a day.

Anger over losing one of the few benefits average Nigerians see from being an oil-rich country, as well as disgust over government corruption, have led to demonstrations across this nation and violence that has killed at least 10 people. Red Cross volunteers have treated more than 600 people injured in protests since the strike began, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday.

“Over 4,000 persons have also been temporarily displaced there as a result of the strike and communal tensions,” said Mamadou Sow, the deputy head of the committee’s delegation in Nigeria. “Most of them have now started to return to their homes.”

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