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NARLA Urges SoS Clinton to Assess Religious Issues Involved in Nigeria's Ongoing Violence

by Melissa Reid

The North American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) joined several faith and public policy organizations in composing a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, requesting her immediate attention to the escalating sectarian violence in Nigeria.

The letter urges Secretary Clinton to consider providing the Nigerian government with bilateral assistance in counter-terrorism and police work; and more importantly, to conduct a thorough assessment of the underlying issues behind the escalating violence. Signees request that the Secretary pay particular attention to the religious elements involved, which must be recognized in order to make effective policy decisions.

Over the past year and a half religiously motivated violence in Nigeria has seriously escalated. On December 31, 2011, the government of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in several areas after a series of attacks on government and non-Muslim targets was punctuated by Christmas Day attacks on churches which killed at least 42 people.  The Boko Haram extremist group, which has called for the overthrow of the government, an end to democracy in Nigeria and the imposition of Sharia law throughout the nation including on the largely Christian south, claimed responsibility for these attacks.

The sense of escalation can be clearly seen in the death toll attributed to Boko Haram. After enduring over 500 Boko Haram related casualties in 2011, over 250 lives lost in the first month of 2012 as a result of violence attributed to this terrorist group. Attacks continue to occur on nearly a daily basis in parts of northern and central Nigeria.

Click here for additional cover on how the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nigeria has been affected by the ongoing religious conflict.