Catholic versus Muslim Trouble in Nigeria is Worrisome

I was reading in the New York Times today about a sucide bomb attack at a Catholic Church in Nigeria.  The attack occurred as morning service was ending.  At least six people were killed as a result of the attack.  In a revenge attack, Catholic youth killed at least two Muslim bystanders.  What in the name of a loving God/Allah is going on in Nigeria?

Nigeria is one of the largest countries in Africa.  It's economy is fueled by enormous oil wealth.  It is poised to be the leading economy on the continent.  Why are its residents involved in a bloody religious conflict.  Some people point to the Boko Haram Islamic sect.  The country has a religious dividing line.  Muslims dominate the northern part of the country.  Catholics dominate the southern part.  There has to be room for some mixing of the faithful.  News sources have reported that there have been over 2,800 deaths attributed to the continuing conflict since 2009.

One of our issues here in the United States is the color line.  Black versus white issues have dominated conversations for at least two centuries.  Even today, there are issues regarding health care, education and incarceration rates that point directly at racial lines.  In Brazil recently, the government acknowledged that it will do more for its citizens of African descent that are at the bottom stratum of society.  We can attribute many problems to the effects of racism but rarely have we seen the kind of violence associated with religious differences.

In South Africa, many problems today are a result of the apartheid policies of the ruling Afrikaans party.  Nelson Mandela will remain a symbol of a life long fight against oppression.  In Rwanda, one of the worst cases of genocide in recent memory was caused by lingering tribal tension between Hutus and Tutsis.  What causes the religious killings in Nigeria?  Many point to the Boko Haram, but also, another root cause can be blamed:

Anger at the pervasive squalor, not at the recent violence, dominates. Crowds quickly gather around to voice their heated discontent, not with Boko Haram, but with what they describe as a shared enemy: the Nigerian state, seen by the poor here as a purveyor of inequality.   Google Search

The division of wealth, and not a religious cause can cause terrible divisions in society.  It is tough to see the ruling elite everyday and one's family has to scavenge to eat.  The theft of crude oil from private pipelines has caused horrific deaths and serious losses to the leading oil producing country.  It is not just racism that divides countries.  Economic inequality is also very divisive.

I am hoping that the government of Nigeria can help to stem the religious violence affecting the country.  The youth of the country do not need to be exposed to the relentless violence associated with religious/economic discord.  I hope Muslim and Catholic families can exist in peace.  I will report back on this issue in the futur.  

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