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Monday, December 8, 2008

Nigerian `Eid Promotes Tolerance

CAIRO — Nigerian President Umar Musa Yar'Adua hopes his countrymen, especially Muslims, capitalize on the four-day `Eid al-Adha to promote tolerance, especially after the recent religious violence in the central city of Jos, The Punch daily reported Sunday, December 7.

"As we mark the `Eid-el-Kabir this year against the background of the recent violent crisis in Jos, with the saddening loss of so many lives, we must seize the opportunity of the occasion to reflect on what we need to do to overcome this recurrent challenge to our unity and hindrance to the progressive development of our nation," Yar'Adua said in his `Eid message.

"Nothing can possibly justify the recurrent descent to violence and politics of hate in some of our communities by people who have lived together peacefully for centuries."

Hundreds of people were killed and several mosques and churches were razed in Jos late in November during clashes between Christian and Muslim mobs.

The clashes erupted after rumors that the All Nigerian People Party (ANPP), a predominantly Muslim party, had lost the local election to the federal ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), which is mainly Christian.

"Our two major religions are founded on the virtues of love, tolerance, forbearance and forgiveness ," stressed President Yar'Adua, a Muslim.

"We must take those injunctions much more to heart and show at all times that we have truly become one people, united by a common destiny."

Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.

Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.


President Yar'Adua urged Nigerians of all faiths to use `Eid al-Adha opportunity to reflect on ways to overcome the religious and sectarian violence.

"We, as leaders at all levels, must also renew our national commitment to evolving and implementing measures and policies that would make sectarian violence a thing of the past in our country, while fostering the harmonious and peaceful co-existence of all our people," he said.

"This administration will provide the required national leadership in this regard but we need the full support, cooperation and collaboration of all Nigerians to succeed."

Babatunde Fashola, the Governor of Lagos State, said the greatest challenge facing the world was to expand the boundaries of tolerance so that humanity can "create a secure, safe and healthy world that enhances rather than desecrates life."

He sees in the spiritual journey of hajj, which millions of Muslims from around the world are currently performing in Saudi Arabia, as an excellent example.

"The diversity of faiths, cultures, tongues and traditions that exist in our world, as typified by the multi-national and multi-cultural character of the multitude of pilgrims that converged in the holy land, is a testimony of the limitless greatness of the Almighty who is the source of all existence."

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