Nigeria: Religious Violence Explodes; plus India; N Korea

General es 03/12/08


Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 507 | Wed 03 Dec 2008

Nigeria; plus current concerns: India-Pakistan Crisis; North Korea

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NIGERIA: RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE EXPLODES IN JOS
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Southern Nigeria is predominantly Christian whilst northern Nigeria
is predominantly Muslim. An ethnic-religious fault-line runs
through the centre. For decades Nigeria was ruled by military
dictators from the north. Rising Islamic fundamentalism and zeal
spurred on by the legitimisation of Sharia Law in the northern
states has caused persecution of Christians to escalate in the
north. It has also led to devastating sectarian conflicts across
the religious fault-line middle belt where many towns are almost
equally divided between Muslims and Christians.

Jos, the capital city of Plateau State in central Nigeria, sits
atop this religious fault-line. When local officials refused to
publish the results of council elections held Thursday 27 November,
rumours circulated that the Christian-dominated People's Democratic
Party had won a majority of the seats. Muslims accused Christians
of rigging the result and, propelled by incitement from their
mosques, went on an anti-Christian rampage / jihad, attacking
churches, Christians and Christian properties. At least 16 churches
have been burnt and four pastors are confirmed killed. Several
mosques were also burnt. On Saturday officials announced that the
PDP had indeed won 16 of the 17 seats, defeating the Muslim-
dominated pro-Sharia All Nigeria Peoples Party.

International secular media are reporting that Muslim-Christian
clashes have left up to 400 Muslims dead, but fail to report that
the armed Muslim rioters died in clashes with the police and
security forces who were struggling to restore order. The number of
Christian fatalities is as yet unknown but it is believed to be
over 100. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that of the 500
Muslims to be arrested, most are outsiders who arrived days in
advance and some were wearing fake military uniforms. Local
Christian leaders believe the violence was pre-planned and that the
Muslims had been waiting for an excuse to unleash it. There is real
danger that anti-Christian violence could spread as Muslims seek
revenge for the large Muslim death toll. The misleading and
provocative reportage from swaths of international secular media
makes this situation especially dangerous.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR --

* the Christians in Jos who have lost their churches, their pastors
or other loved ones: may they know the comfort of Christ (2
Corinthians 1:3-5); may they have inner healing from the Spirit
(Isaiah 57:15); may their merciful heavenly Father deliver them
from evil (Matthew 6:13) such as the danger of Islamic jihad and
from the destructiveness of a bitter, unforgiving heart. 'He
restores my soul.' Psalm 23:3a ESV

* God to infiltrate President Umaru Yar Adua's administration with
heavenly wisdom and strength to tackle rising Islamic
fundamentalism and the destructive intolerance and violence that
it produces. (Proverbs 21:1)

* the Holy Spirit to flood the free and more prosperous churches
of southern Nigeria with selfless love and a zeal for mission
that compels them to witness to northern Muslims and serve their
persecuted northern brethren. (Isaiah 58)

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE EXPLODES IN NIGERIA

A Muslim pogrom against Christians erupted in Jos, central Nigeria,
last weekend after reports that the Christian-dominated People's
Democratic Party had won the council elections, defeating the
Muslim, pro-Sharia All Nigeria Peoples Party. The Christian death
toll is likely to be over 100. At least 16 churches have been burnt
and four pastors are confirmed dead. Up to 400 Muslims died in
clashes with police and security forces. Of the 500 Muslims
arrested, most are outsiders who arrived days in advance, some
wearing fake military uniforms. Local Christian leaders believe the
violence was pre-planned and that the Muslims had been waiting for
an excuse to unleash it. The danger is Muslims will seek revenge
for the high Muslim death toll, especially as most media have
failed to report that the rioters died fighting the security
forces. Please pray.

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URGENT PRAYER CONCERNS:

* THE INDIA-PAKISTAN CRISIS

The Mumbai terror attack could soon be dwarfed by the crisis it has
triggered. For political gain, the Hindu-nationalist BJP is
exploiting mass anger and fear, accusing the Congress-led UPA
government of failing the people, and exhorting the masses to vote
BJP if they want security. The Indian government will be committing
political suicide if it fails to deliver a strong response.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani government is presently very weak and its
army is fractured. The al-Qaeda-Taliban jihadists are snapping at
the heels of Peshawar in the north-west with a view to capturing
the city and cutting the vital NATO supply-line into Afghanistan.
The government of Pakistan cannot fight on two fronts - if the army
is forced to deploy to the Indian border, the north-west could fall
to al-Qaeda-Taliban forces. This is a most serious (possibly al-
Qaeda engineered) crisis to hit the South Asian subcontinent.
Consequences for the region's Church, and for global security,
could be far-reaching. Please pray.


* NORTH KOREA REVERTS

For some time now the regime of Kim Jong-Il (who according to
intelligence may have recently suffered a stroke) has been severely
limiting public markets and trying to re-Stalinise the state. They
have been tightening border security, cracking down on cross-border
trade, mobile phones and religion (particularly amongst soldiers).
On 1 December 2008 the cross-border rail-link (opened in May 2007)
was shut down, tours of South Koreans to North Korea were halted
and around half the South Korean staff at the Kaesong Industrial
Park were sent home to South Korea. North Korea has reverted to
isolation. This is a devastating blow for the suffering Church in
North Korea. It is a desperate measure from a threatened regime.
Violent repression and starvation are destined to escalate. Please
pray.

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RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.