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1. Dozens dead after church attacks in Nigeria; Pakistan churches also hit
As if the Muhammad cartoons controversy story wasn't complicated enough, related violence over the weekend has complicated the matter even more. The events are stark enough: Muslims attacked two churches in Sukkur, Pakistan, and have continued to riot in Nigeria, where at least 30 churches were burned and at least 45 people have been killed. Most of the Nigerian attacks have been in the city of Maiduguri, capital of Borneo state.

But the riots aren't only about the cartoons. Pakistan's riots were mostly about rumors that a Christian teenager had thrown pages of the Qur'an into a trashcan, but, as AFP notes, "Sukkur has recently been the scene of almost daily protest rallies against the cartoons." Nigeria's latest riot, in Bauchi, was over a teacher's confiscation of a student's Qur'an. Riots in the country over the weekend were tinged with political tension over rumors that President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, will seek a third presidential term, and concerns over a looming national census.

Still, it appears that outrage over the cartoons set the stage for the riots. And outrage over the riots seems to be the next big story in Nigeria. The statement issued by Peter Akinola, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (and head of the Anglican Church there) is dramatic. "From all indications, it is very clear now that the sacrifices of the Christians in this country for peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths has been sadly misunderstood to be weakness," says his written statement. It continues:

It is no longer a hidden fact that a long standing agenda to make this Nigeria an Islamic nation is being surreptitiously ...
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February 2006

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