Thursday, February 28, 2008

Abp. Akinola and the Massacre of Yelwa

The Atlantic has a current article written by Eliza Griswold, the daughter of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, entitled God's Country. It is an in depth report on the tensions between Christianity and Islam in Nigeria.

One story involves the attack on a Christian church in Yelwa in February 2004. The church was burned, and all 70 of the Christians who were worshipping there were killed.

About two months later, the Christians retaliated:

...Two months after the church was razed, Christian men and boys surrounded Yelwa. Many were bare-chested; others wore shirts on which they’d reportedly pinned white name tags identifying them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, an umbrella organization founded in the 1970s to give Christians a collective and unified voice as strong as that of Muslims. Each tag had a number instead of a name: a code, it seemed, for identification. They attacked the town. According to Human Rights Watch, 660 Muslims were massacred over the course of the next two days, including the patients in the Al-Amin clinic. Twelve mosques and 300 houses went up in flames. Young girls were marched to a nearby Christian town and forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Many were raped, and 50 were killed...
Does the Christian Association of Nigeria ring a bell? It should:

... At the time of the massacre, Archbishop Peter Akinola was the president of the Christian Association of  Nigeria, whose membership was implicated in the killings. He has since lost his bid for another term but, as primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, he is still the leader of 18 million Anglicans. He is a colleague of my father, who was the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America from 1997 to 2006. But the American Episcopals’ election of an openly homosexual bishop in 2003, which Archbishop Akinola denounced as “satanic,” created distance between them...
Ms Griswold went to see Abp. Akinola. Here is part of his response to her questions:

...When asked if those wearing name tags that read “Christian Association of Nigeria” had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. “No comment,” he said. “No Christian would pray for violence, but it would be utterly naive to sweep this issue of Islam under the carpet.” He went on, “I’m not out to combat anybody. I’m only doing what the Holy Spirit tells me to do. I’m living my faith, practicing and preaching that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and they respect me for it. They know where we stand. I’ve said before: let no Muslim think they have the monopoly on violence”...
He grinned, and then said "No comment."

Not good enough, Archbishop. What was your role in this massacre? Did you send those men to attack Yelwa?

J.

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