FaithWorld

Amnesty says Nigerian army rights abuses make Islamist insurgency worse

(Soldiers search a car for suspected explosives along a road in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano January 22, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Human rights abuses committed by Nigeria’s security forces in their fight against Islamist sect Boko Haram are fuelling the very insurgency they are meant to quell, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

Boko Haram says it wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and its fighters have killed hundreds in bomb and gun attacks targeting security forces, politicians and civilians since launching an uprising in 2009. The sect has become the No. 1 security threat to Africa’s top energy producer.

The Amnesty report said Nigeria’s security forces acted outside the rule of law and their brutal tactics could build support for Boko Haram outside its extremist core.

A Nigerian military spokesman contacted by Reuters rejected the report as “biased and mischievous”.

Nigeria resumes haj trips to Mecca, ending row over unaccompanied women

(Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Al-Masjid al-Haram (Grand mosque) in Mecca October 31, 2011. REUTERS/Ammar Awad )

Nigeria has resumed flights to Saudi Arabia for the annual haj pilgrimage, ending a diplomatic row over the detention of hundreds of female pilgrims for arriving unaccompanied by men, the country’s haj commission has said.

Saudi authorities have deported more than 600 female Nigerian pilgrims and detained hundreds for trying to visit the Islamic holy city of Mecca without male relatives. Nigeria suspended flights to Saudi last week.

Nigeria stops pilgrimages to Mecca over unaccompanied women row

(The Mecca Clock Tower overlooks the Grand Mosque during the Muslim month of Ramadan in the holy city of Mecca August 4, 2012. REUTERS/Hassan Ali )

Nigeria has suspended flights to Saudi Arabia for the annual haj pilgrimage, following a diplomatic spat over the detention of hundreds of female pilgrims for arriving unaccompanied by men.

Saudi authorities have deported more than 600 female Nigerian pilgrims and detained hundreds for trying to visit the holy city of Mecca without male relatives.

Saudi deports 150 female pilgrims, holds 1,000 more, Nigeria says

(Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand mosque, on the last days of the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca November 8, 2011. REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

Saudi authorities have deported 150 female Nigerian pilgrims and detained another 1,000 because they came unaccompanied by men, Nigeria’s government announced on Wednesday.

Mohammed Bello, chairman of Nigeria’s national haj, or Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, said 150 women on one flight had been stopped at the airport for “lack of … lawful male accompanying pilgrim”.

Nigeria says its push against the Boko Haram Islamists is paying off

(Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New York, September 26, 2012.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz )

Nigeria’s “robust” approach to neutralizing a threat posed by Islamist sect Boko Haram using military force, holding indirect talks with the group and improving education in the north is paying off, the Nigerian president said on Wednesday.

Boko Haram, which wants to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths since its insurgency intensified in 2010. The United States has designated three of Boko Haram’s senior members as terrorists.

Voices of Mideast Christians and Muslims about Pope Benedict’s visit to Beirut (pix)

(Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful from his Pope-mobile upon his arrival to conduct an open-air mass service at Beirut City Center Waterfront September 16, 2012. REUTERS/ Stefano Rellandini)

Whenever he travels abroad, Pope Benedict delivers a series of speeches that journalists scan for their relevance to the situation in the country he’s visiting. This aspect has been especially important here in Lebanon, a multi-faith country that suffered through a 15-year-long civil war (1975-1990) fought along sectarian lines and now watches nervously as Syria’s bloody civil war unfolds along sectarian lines only 50 km (30 miles) from Beirut. So the majority of our stories have focused on his calls for an end to the violence in Syria and greater efforts to promote peace and religious co-existence in the region.

Another part of the story is the enthusiastic welcome Christians and some Muslims have given the pope as a messenger of peace. We’ve quoted several of them in our news stories. But our journalists, especially Erika Solomon, an Arabic-speaking American, have gathered so many of these quotes that I wanted to post a large selection of them here. They give more of the human flavour of the visit and what it means for the Christians who hear the pope’s message.

Interfaith report: Poverty and injustice drive Nigeria’s sectarian violence

(A roadblock burns after a bombing at St. Finbarr's Catholic Church in the Rayfield suburb of the Nigerian city of Jos March 11, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Poverty, inequality and injustice are threatening to trigger a broad sectarian conflict in Nigeria, an international Christian-Muslim task force said on Wednesday.

Clashes between Nigerian Christians and Muslims have already killed hundreds of people this year alone. But although the violence is the worst between members of the two faiths since the Bosnian war of 1992-1995, the root causes go far beyond religion, the group’s report said.

Factbox on recent Boko Haram strikes on Nigerian churches

(A victim of a bombing at Shalom Church awaits treatment in a hospital, in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna June 17, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer )

Explosions at three churches in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state killed 19 people on Sunday. Here is a look at attacks against Christian targets in Nigeria.

* OVERVIEW:

- The Islamist group Boko Haram, which says it is fighting to reinstate an Islamic caliphate in mostly Muslim northern Nigeria, has stepped up deadly bombings and shootings against Christian places of worship this year.

Nigeria church bombings kill 19, spark reprisal attacks on Muslims

(Onlookers gather near the bomb-damaged Shalom Church in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna June 17, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Suicide car bombers attacked three churches in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least 19 people, wounding dozens and triggering retaliatory attacks by Christian youths who dragged Muslims from cars and killed them, witnesses said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings but just one week ago Islamist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for deadly church attacks.

Boko Haram “thanks God” after killing 12 in Nigeria church bombing

(People stand by the wreckage from a car bomb explosion at a church in Yelwa on the outskirts of the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi, June 3, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Islamist militant group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing of a church in northern Nigeria that killed 12 people. A suicide bomber drove a car full of explosives into a church during a Sunday serving in Yelwa, on the outskirts of the city of Bauchi, forcing his car through a checkpoint.

“We thank God for giving us victory. We successfully carried out a suicide bombing on a church at Yelwa in Bauchi state,” an emailed statement from Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa said on Monday. The email address was the same the sect always uses.