Nigerian imam urges Christians, Muslims to unite against Boko Haram

(Photo: REUTERS / Akintunde Akinleye)A protester holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, before a protest along a road in Lagos May 14, 2014. Nigeria's government signaled a willingness on Tuesday to negotiate with Islamist militants holding more than 200 schoolgirls, a month after the kidnapping that has provoked global outrage.

A Nigerian Islamic leader has urged Christians and Muslims to continue to unite against the Boko Haram group in order to put an end to their activities that include purging society of Western education.

The Chief Imam of the Al-Habibiyyah Islamic Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Fuad Adeyemi, made the call at a news conference in Abuja, the Daily Times newspaper reported on May 16.

Nigeria and the world are incensed at the kidnapping by Boko Haram of nearly 300 schoolgirls from their school a month ago.

Prominent political figures and celebrities from all over the world have joined a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign.

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba condemned abductions of Nigerian Schoolgirls as an "outrage."

He called for "all of Africa, and especially South Africa" to rise up and demand the release the Nigerian schoolgirls.

Many Nigerians are also angry that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has not done enough to try and rescue the girls.

Adeyemi urged religious leaders and politicians to desist from politicising the abduction of the school girls in Chibok, Borno.

"We are very saddened by the abduction of nearly 300 school girls in Chibok.

"Many of our members have been fasting from that day. We don't care if the girls are Christians or Muslims, they are Nigerians and most importantly, they are human beings," he said.

Some of the girls who were Christians had converted to Islam Boko Haram said to accusations the girls had been forced to change their faith.

The abduction of the girls has raised other issues relating to discrimination in Africa's most populous nation that is roughly split between Muslim and Christian inhabitants.

"When Nigerian states adopt sharia [Islamic] laws that are in their application blatantly unfavorable to women, it creates an environment in which a terrorist group like Boko Haram believes it has a right to do as it pleases with girls without prosecution," Time magazine reported Monday.

The report said that before 2000, the scope of sharia law in Nigeria was limited to civil cases.

"Since then, nine northern Nigerian states have adopted sharia law fully, to include criminal cases as well. A further three northern states have adopted sharia law in populations where Muslims are the majority."

Sharia is a group of Islamic moral codes and laws that determines acceptable behaviour Muslims and it exists along with civil law in these states.

Meanwhile Adeyemi called on the federal government to continue to explore all meaningful ways to end the insurgency.

Adeyemi said that both Muslims and Christians were the target of the terrorists.

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