Nigeria's The Daily Sun reports that the Christian Association of Nigeria, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola, has called for a strict two-day period of mourning (March 27 and 28) in response to February's religious violence.
"We call on the faithful, who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ, Christians of all denominations, of all ages – young, old, men, women, clergy, lay to observe a two-day national mourning for the fallen brethren thoughout the country on March 27 and 28. During this period of mourning, no Christian shall go to work, no shop, market or office is to be opened. In other words, there shall be no business transactions," he stated.There is, strangely, no mention of the violence handed down on Nigerian Muslims, by Christians, in the southeastern town of Onitsha, nor the potential culpability of the Archbishop in inciting that violence with his February 21 press release, declaring to northern Muslims, "may we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation" and that "C.A.N. [Christian Association of Nigeria] may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue."
He said that CAN watched with sadness and utter dismay the recent crisis in which many Christians were killed and churches and other property destroyed by people hiding under the guise of religion.
Akinola, who is also the primate of the Church of God, Anglican Communion, said a meeting of the Governors Forum should urgently be convened to discuss and agree on step to be taken to stop anti-Christian posture. He said that Nigerians should know that the country belongs to all Nigerians, that Nigerian Christians have no other country but Nigeria and that there should be mutual respect, tolerance and peaceful co-existence among all Nigerians in all the states of the federation.
Is this a press hiccup? Why is there no mention of Onitsha? Is The Daily Sun sympathetic to Akinola? What's going on?
Catholic bishops in Nigeria have issued a similar directive for two days of prayer on the same dates. However, they, in contrast to the Anglican Church, released a far more conciliatory note of calm during the southern Christian violence against Muslims, that called upon Christians to stay their hands and seek peace with their neighbors.
I honestly find it difficult to understand why Akinola couldn't mention the scores that died in Onitsha by Christian hands. Maybe his office will release something in the next few days to clarify his position on that tragedy, as well.
UPDATE: 3/13/2006, 9:02 AM. Nigeria's Daily Independent also reports on this story, but again there is no mention of the violence in Onitsha, let alone any reconciliation.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Sunday directed all Christians to stay at home and observe a two-day national mourning for the “fallen brethren” in the cartoon riots throughout the country on March 27 and 28.What in the world is the "League of Anglican Media Practitioners?" All I've managed to find is a short press release from the Church itself on changes in the League's officers, and some indication elsewhere that the organization is intended to promote the Anglican Church in the media. No wonder there hasn't yet been any mention in the press of violence in Onitsha.
The umbrella Christians body also requested the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary not to treat those arrested in connection with the recent wanton destruction with kid gloves, adding that they must be treated for who they are: criminals, murderers and arsonists.
President of CAN, Most Rev. Peter Akinola, read a statement entitled: “A Call To National Mourning” at the inauguration of the League of Anglican Media Practitioners (LAMP) in Abuja.
He said CAN watched with sadness and utter dismay the recent crises in some states in the North where many Christians were ruthlessly killed and churches and other property wantonly destroyed by some criminals, murderers and arsonists hiding under the guise of religion and therefore resolved to set aside the two days for national mourning and sober reflection. It is also to declare that Nigerian Christians have no other place they can call their own, except Nigeria.
By the way, the American Anglican Council gives an unannotated mention of the article in the Daily Independent on their website. I guess the AAC has no problem with the violence in Onitsha, either. Probably best not to mention it.