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When I hear of the Muslim-Christian conflicts in Jos, Nigeria, my heart aches for the people I know there. I remember the smiles, the hospitality, the kindness. And at the moment, I am thinking of some of our American students who were visiting there as well.

Violent conflicts in this part of Nigeria are not new, and they are often followed by conflicting accounts of what happened. To my knowledge, there is little dispute that the first conflicts over the years were started by jihadists. Over time, however, as people lost loved ones and began to retaliate, mistrust widened between the Christian and Muslim communities, though probably the majority live in peace most of the time and would like to continue to live in peace. Many undoubtedly also realize, however, that many wishes for peace will not make the danger go away.

In the past, Christians have complained that international media outlets have often depended largely on the Muslim-dominated Hausa media of northern Nigeria. In one recent case, when according to some reports many Muslim young men were gunned down charging peace-keeping soldiers, their bodies were displayed to the media in the mosque as if "Christians" had slaughtered them there. Yet both churches and mosques had been burned in the conflicts; no one seemed to ask how so many young men would have died defenselessly from bullets inside a mosque, without damage to the mosque.

Years ago I visited Yelwa-Shandam, a location in the majority Christian Plateau State (the state in which Jos is the chief city); the long road from Jos was full of churches. Yelwa-Shandam had many churches, and I taught 60 pastors there.

Within a year after I left that town, Christians were slaughtered and driven out, and churches destroyed. ...

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January 2010

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