Nigerian Religious Leaders Call For Tolerance, Peace

Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria have issued a nationwide call for tolerance and peace between the two religious groups, whose clashes last month left over 500 people dead.

The National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Archbishop John Onaiyekan and the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa'ad issued the statement last week during a meeting of the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) in Bauchi State, according to

"We need to understand, respect and tolerate one another. As a Muslim, you need to understand your Christian brother and his religion and also as a Christian, you must understand your Muslim brother and his religion", the sultan said.

"The council was formed to enable religious leaders come together and engage themselves in dialogue, because dialogue is the best way to tackle problems. By the Grace of God, we will find a solution to religious crises in the region," he added.

Onaiyekan added that the NIREC, whose leadership is divided between 25 Muslim leaders, 25 Christian leaders, and 50 voluntary religious leaders, has no political ambitions, but exists to ensure peace and harmony among the people.

Sectarian violence in Nigeria has been ongoing since 1999 when the country's military rule ended. Over 13,500 people have been killed in the clashes, according to Human Rights Watch, many of them in the city of Jos.

Last month, attacks on Christian villages in the city of Jos last month left nearly 500 people dead, with many of the victims either burned or killed with machetes.

The Nigerian government is currently prosecuting some 200 people for involvement in the massacre.

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