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Nigerian archbishop says it's OK for Christians to fight back

The Archbishop of the Nigerian capital Abuja said yesterday that Christians are "tired of turning the other cheek" to Muslim attacks and blamed the government for deadly sectarian riots after a newspaper article about the Miss World beauty pageant.

"No group of people should be allowed to invade the city of Abuja and molest law-abiding citizens," said the Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan.

Onaiyekan was speaking at a news conference called by the Council of Nigerian Churches and accused President Olusegun Obasanjo's government of failing to protect Christians during the riots.

"We blame the government because we rely on the government to protect us," he said.

The archbishop said Christians shouldn't hesitate to defend themselves from further attacks.

"It is a Christian duty to protect yourselves," he said.

Senior clergy from the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and other churches also criticised the government, arguing that Christians had taken the brunt of the violence.

More than 200 people were killed last week by Muslims and Christians in the northern city of Kaduna. The rioting was triggered by a newspaper article in the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay that suggested the Muslim prophet Muhammad would have approved of the Miss World pageant and might have wanted to marry a contestant if given the opportunity.


Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan (
Nigeria's violence not simply Christian vs Muslim (Zenit)
Nigerian priest, churches attacked in Miss World rioting (25/11/02)

28 Nov 2002