AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Boko Haram threatens Christians and Muslims," said Mgr. Onaiyekan

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - The attack on the mosque Okene shows the true nature of Boko Haram " says to Fides His Exc. Mgr. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, commenting on the assault waged against the main Mosque of Okene in the Kogi State, 24 hours after the shooting in the Deeper Life Bible Church in Otite, in which at least 20 people were killed. In the attack on the Mosque 4 people were killed, including two soldiers on guard.
"Boko Haram is a threat to everyone, not just for Christians," said Mgr. Onaiyekan. "It is not the first time that a mosque is attacked, but previous attacks against mosques have not had the same prominence of attacks against Christian churches, perhaps because when Islamic groups attack a mosque it is not news" continues the Archbishop. "We must bare in mind that we are dealing with a group of criminals that all Nigerians, Christians and Muslims, must face together" stresses Mgr. Onaiyekan.
The Archbishop also noted that "Okene is in particular a Muslim community, where a strong Christian minority lives, and is one of the examples where Christians and Muslims live together. So it is not possible to divide the community between Christians and Muslims. " "The attack on Okene opens a new phase because there will be a response from the local population. I know for a fact that Muslim and Christian leaders discuss how to address the common threat " reveals Mgr. Onaiyekan.
Mgr. Onaiyekan is cautious in describing the phenomenon of Boko Haram as a persecution aimed exclusively against Christians. "We have no precise statistics but we can say that the Muslim victims of Boko Haram are more numerous than Christians" says the Archbishop. "This is because Boko Haram sows violence, particularly in the north-east, where the population is largely Muslim: they attack markets, government offices and police and army commands. Last week they even tried to kill one of the most important traditional rulers in the north-east as he was leaving a mosque."
"It is true that Boko Haram terrorists attack churches and say they want to drive Christians out. There are groups of Christians who support the thesis of the persecution of Christians. They have their reasons but I say that we must affirm the truth because the truth is what saves you, " concludes Mgr. Onaiyekan. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 08/08/2012)

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