Nigeria's federal government has suspended the Islamic legal system—shari'a law—in several states, after mass killings and destruction of property worth millions of dollars in the northern city of Kaduna. Yet it remains to be seen whether the Muslim governors of the northern states will comply.More than 400 people died in street battles and other violence between Christians and Muslims in Kaduna in late February. The violence has sparked other riots in cities in the north and southeast.The Kaduna state government's decision to implement Islamic law for its 4 million citizens sparked the violence. Many mosques and at least 36 churches were destroyed. More than 200,000 people were forced to flee.Several states in Northern Nigeria have implemented, or are considering implementing, Islamic law (CT, Jan. 10, p. 26). The northern region is mostly Muslim, but Christians comprise about half the country's population.President Olesegun Obasanjo, a Christian politician who won last year's elections, laments the "wanton destruction of lives and property in the name of religion," and points out that both Islam and Christianity "preach love, peace, care, and protection of one's neighbor." He says the government will establish reconciliation committees across the country to enable Nigerians, irrespective of their religious beliefs and tribal origins, to resolve their differences amicably.Sunday Mbang, national president of the Christian Association of Nigeria and head of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, welcomes the federal government's suspension of shari'a and warns that an early resolution of the controversy is the only way to halt what he describes as an impending disaster for Nigeria.Nigeria's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, ...1
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