[Ecumenical News International] British Anglicans have called upon the United Kingdom government to support those in Nigeria seeking to protect religious minorities of all faiths and enable them to practice their religion without fear.
The resolution passed by 344 votes to 0 with one abstention on Feb. 8 at the biannual session of Synod, the Church of England’s parliament. It expressed grave concern at the plight of Christian communities in parts of Nigeria, including the city of Kano where more than 200 people were killed by bombs on Jan. 20.
The Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, who recently returned from visiting Anglican communities in Nigeria on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, told synod that the violence in the northeast and midsection of the country was pervasive with the “vast majority of attacks against Christian churches of all kinds.”
Referring to violence by terrorist groups, especially the main group called Boko Haram, he said that the religious factor was of great importance, but ethnic tensions and youth unemployment also played a part.
He described Boko Haram, which reportedly has some support from political leaders in northern Nigeria, as a very violent organization that kills both Christians and Muslims. “We call for support for the vigorous determined people of Nigeria and that our government help them where they seek help,” he said.
Canon Chris Sugden (Oxford diocese) suggested that “the leverage of trade and investment must be used to safeguard freedom of worship.” He added that “the violent oppression of Christian minorities is becoming the norm in some countries and there is a conspiracy of silence about it.”
Both the archbishops of Canterbury and York spoke of the importance of maintaining links with threatened communities at the formal and individual level to alleviate the sense of isolation they could feel.