We Must all Shun Sectarian Violence
By Fr. Kizito Sesana
The day before yesterday in Jos (Nigeria), once again a murderous violence was unleashed against Christians by some Muslim fanatics. Rarely a Sunday passes without the news that in Kenya or Nigeria some Chrisitans were attacked and killed. I also noted with disappointment that to find this news – at least 37 people killed, they say – in the website of the BBC you have to go to the local African page. The killing of thirty-seven people because they are Christians is no longer worth the front page.
In response to these massacres, the bishops of Nigeria and Kenya, in addition to expressing their horror for the facts and offering their condolences, repeat a message that says more or less: “There was no war of religion. It is religion, in this case Islam, that is improperly used for political or terrorist purposes”.
They are right to say it, because it’s true, and the bishops, as well as all of us, have a responsibility to prevent the plans of those who want to incite the two communities against each other.
The daily experience in Kenya is of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians, perhaps with some occasional tension on minor issues, and often there is cooperation to solve common problems. In Kibera, our Mdugu Mdogo house is situated in an area of Muslim majority, and we are sure we can always count on their cooperation and protection. For the Muslim families living close to us to throw grenades into a church is unthinkable.
But our bishops should demand that Muslim leaders disavow violence in a loud, clear, unequivocal way. It is not enough for them to make statements distancing themselves from these horrific events. They must make very public and very visible gestures, involving a large number of the faithful (a day of prayer? A rally? Is up to them) to indicate a mobilization of the entire Muslim community against terrorism and against the use of all forms of violence. It not reasonable that the day after he said the government must “crack down” on those responsible for these criminal acts, the president of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) protests because the proposed new law against terrorism “is discriminatory and focuses on the Muslim community” “, which is absolutely not true. The message that reaches the Muslim community, especially those who have Islamist ideological temptations, and are young, without work and without money, is too confusing.