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Nigeria: inter-religious violence, Boniver soon to be in Africa - Italy’s call for the EU Council to discuss it is heard

18 June 2012

The latest bloody Sunday in Nigeria has given a tragic boost to the escalating violence there against Christians. According to Minister Giulio Terzi’s announcement, the Italian government’s special envoy for humanitarian emergencies Margherita Boniver, was preparing for a visit to Africa to meet with the local authorities on the issue of inter-religious conflict, while High Representative for EU Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton, accepted Italy’s request to discuss attacks on Christians in Nigeria at the 25 June EU Foreign Affairs Council.

According to her spokesperson, the High Representative, “condemned the ghastly attacks against churches in Nigeria, expressing her condolences to the victims and their families and confirming her determination to help the Nigerian authorities bring the guilty to justice”. Il Ministro Terzi had deemed “indispensable” the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s discussion of interreligious violence in Nigeria, adding that three levels of intervention would be needed to stem it: inclusion of the defence of religious minorities into constitutions, tolerance training and counter-terrorism collaboration”. These issues were the central focus of meetings the minister held last Thursday at the foreign ministry in Rome with Arab League Secretary General Nabil El Araby.

Islamic extremist aims

Christian places of worship in Nigeria have become the main target for the Islamic extremists of Boko Haram, a group linked with Al Qaeda whose aim is not only to install an Islamic Caliphate in the country’s north, but also the broader and more dangerous one of triggering an inter-religious civil war by shattering the tenuous stability of Africa’s most populous nation: half of Nigeria’s approximately 160 million inhabitants are Christians concentrated in the country’s south, and the other half are Muslims, who are the majority in the north.

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