How Nigeria Can Curb Religious Violence

The international day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief is a day dedicated by the United Nations to raise awareness on religious intolerance, violence and discrimination based on religious belief and to protect human rights, particularly the freedom of religion and belief. The international day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief is marked on the 22nd of August of every year, it comes a day after the international day of remembrance and tribute to the victims of terrorism and has been in existence since 2019.

Christianity, African traditional religion and Islam are the 3 existent religions in Nigeria. Christianity and Islam are the two dominant religions in Nigeria with 87 million Christians and 90 million Muslims.

While religious violence in Nigeria has been linked to intolerance and extremism, the portrayal of incidents by the media also aggravates religious violence.

According to research by Accord between 1999 and 2012, Nigeria has experienced over 30 religious-based incidents of violence with the most attacks recorded in the northeast, northwest, and north central region of Nigeria.

From January 2021 to June 2022, there were 244 deaths in churches with a total of 65 attacks, 45 deaths and 12 attacks on mosques.

Nigeria has designed a number of policies and measures to curb religious violence, one such is the political application of the principle of power-sharing between the south and the north and Muslims and Christians, the promotion of interfaith cooperation and dialogue through the establishment of Nigeria’s inter-religious council in 2000, prohibition of registration of banks with religious appellations, the exclusion of religion as an index in the design, conduct, and reporting of national population census, non-registration of political parties with ethnic or religious colourations and the establishment of the federal character commission to prevent the predominance of one religious group in all government institutions.

Dr. Philip Olayoku, the coordinator of the West African Transitional Justice Center (WATJCenter) pointed out that the government and its policies are doing little to nothing to actually curb religious violence in the country, he stated that the issue of religion has been mixed with politics, citing the example of the candidates of the upcoming 2023 presidential election and the uproar on the Muslim-muslim ticket. According to Dr. Philip, the actions of the government towards such matters might degenerate into religious violence as religious violence also emerges from sentiments being mobilised in the system.

On how to curb religious intolerance in the country, He suggested that ethnic identity and religious identity should be segregated as a way to curb religious violence, holding that Nigerians are often identified by their religions and ethnicity first before identifying as a national of Nigeria. He stated that citizenship should be imposed as the first form of identification before ethnic and religious identity comes to play.

source: Dataphyte

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