Christian, Muslim leaders issue joint condemnation of Nigeria bombings

(Photo: WCC)Inter-religious delegation's visit to Nigeria. World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan on May 23, 2014.

The head of the World Council of Churches and a leading Islamic figure have jointly condemned the "indiscriminate" bombing in central Nigeria that has killed up to 200 people, many of them women and children.

Two bombs on Tuesday shredded a business district teeming with shoppers, commuters and traders and the total number of deaths remains unclear, but Nigeria's National Mirror newspaper reported Thursday that the death toll had risen to 200.

Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, chairman of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought expressed "heart-felt sorrow and condolences" in a joint statement.

"We strongly condemn the recent bombings in Jos, Nigeria. The location and timing of the bombings clearly were designed to cause indiscriminate and widespread casualties among passers-by, and among rescue workers who were coming to their aid," the two religious leaders said.

Teachers in Nigeria were holding a nation-wide day of protests Thursday to support the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted a month ago by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram which has also been linked to the Jos bombings.

Unions representing teachers said they were also marching in memory of the 173 teachers killed by militants.

It follows continuing bloody attacks in the country by Boko Haram.

Jos is viewed as a point marking a dividing line between the mainly Christian south and the predominantly Muslim north of Africa's most populous nation and has been a flashpoint in the past for sectarian violence.

Nigeria's 170 million people are roughly divided between Christians and Muslims but Boko Haram wants an Islamic State that has strict Shariah, a code determining the behaviour of Muslims.

President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the blasts, calling the bombers "cruel and evil" and remained committed to "winning the war against terror."

Both Tveit and Prince Ghazi were in Jos and Plateau State in 2012 leading a Christian-Muslim delegation in Nigeria.

They underlined that the horrific acts which have just occurred in Jos do not represent in any way either of their two religions.

"They [the bombings] have made us even more determined to find ways to support the people of Nigeria and those who are seeking to put an end to violence in the country," says their statement.

"Peace is a blessing from God. Christianity and Islam call for peace and harmony among all of humanity, and do not condone or allow offensive warfare or aggression," reads the statement.

Tveit also expressed "profound concern" for the abduction of the more than 200 young women by Boko Haram fighters, urging "swift and peaceful" action to restore these girls to their homes.

A global "#Bring Back our Girls!" campaign for the freeing of the girls is being waged by the general public, civil society, celebrities, politicians and trade unions.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News