Nigeria: Stop Seeing Acts of Terror as 'Religious War' - Buhari Tells Nigerians

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday charged Nigerians to be united in their resolve to fight terrorism and ensure peace reigns in the country.

The president also said that citizens must ensure they do not subscribe to the terrorists' message of division, adding that doing the contrary would embolden what the terrorists wish, which is for "Nigerians to see their beliefs as a reason to turn against one another."

The president's statement came in the wake of the allegation of religious persecution by the Christian Association of Nigeria.

The group, reacting to a U.S. report , alleged that Christians have been victims of persecution and killings in states like Kaduna, Benue, Plateau Adamawa and Taraba.

Also, on 26 December last year, the Islamic State group released a 56-second video, produced by the IS "news agency" Amaq, claiming to show the killing of 11 Christian hostages. The group said its action was to "avenge" the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a US raid in Syria in October.

Analysts believed the video was aimed at flaring religious tension between Muslim and Christians, two major religious groups in the country.

Appeal

Mr Buhari, through his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, urged Nigerians not to give in to the plot of the terrorists.

"As we fight Boko Haram on the ground, so too must we tackle their beliefs: stability and unity in (the) face of their hatred is itself a rejection of their worldview," the presidential statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES read.

Mr Buhari also condemned the killings which occurred during the festive period.

"To continue to see these happenings solely in religious terms – removed from social, economic and environmental factors – simplifies complexities that must be heeded.

"Not seeing them as they should be is exactly what the terrorists and groups wish: they want Nigerians to see their beliefs as a reason to turn against one another," the president said.

"On the contrary, Christians and Muslims alike are united in their opposition to Boko Haram and the hatred for decency that the infamous group stands for.

"This government shall never tolerate religious intolerance. We clearly and unambiguously restate our support for the freedom to practice whichever belief you wish. The politicisation of religion – as forbidden by the constitution – has no place in Nigeria."

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