We often hear about strife between Muslims and Christians, so it’s heartening to hear good news for a change. Vanguard reports 200 young Muslim men surrounded a Christian church in Kaduna, Nigeria on Christmas day to protect the worshippers within.
Pastor Yohanna Buru of the Christ Evangelical Church told reporters, “I really appreciate their love and care,’’ and explained that this is one of many ongoing interfaith efforts to encourage Christians and Muslims to live together peacefully. Yohanna Buru is also the president of the Peace Revival and Reconciliation foundation of Nigeria, a Christian group that seeks to make peace and form interfaith alliances with Muslim organizations.
Kaduna — and Nigeria as a whole — have suffered attacks by extremist groups like Boko Haram for decades. In 2000, Christians and Muslims clashed when the state of Kaduna introduced Sharia law, even though half of the state’s population is non-Muslim. The riots killed thousands and reduced untold numbers of churches and mosques to rubble. In 2012, more riots broke out when suicide bombers blew up three churches and killed 52 people.
In June 2013, Voice of America reported Christians and Muslims were still struggling to rebuild their churches and mosques, and that many remained afraid to come and worship. Yet Buru told reporters his group was working to rebuild three Mosques and that a Muslim organization was helping rebuild Christian churches.
“Wherever Christians are, let’s stand up and begin to defend the mosques and protect the mosques, including the Muslims too. So that in the Muslim dominated areas, too, those that protect the churches and the Christians too so that we will live in peace and harmony in this country.”
Unfortunately, the Premium Times reports that three days later, gunmen shot and killed 10 people at a post-Christmas celebration in Tattaura Village, Kaduna. But gestures like the one these 200 young Muslim men made to ensure that their Christian neighbors could celebrate Christmas safely at least gives hope that peace in Kaduna may someday be attainable.
H/T and featured image: NAIJ.