Christian Pastor Ignores Threats of Violence to Serve Poor Muslims During Islamic Holiday in Nigeria

National Church of Abuja
Construction on the National Church of Abuja, in the capital of Nigeria, in 2005. |

A Christian pastor ignored the threat of possible violence to feed 200 poor, disabled Muslims and their relatives to celebrate their holiday of Eid in Kaduna, Nigeria, according to Voice of America.

The pastor, who worked with clerics to provide food to the city's most destitude, was part of a larger team of Muslims and Christians not only to observing the holiday together but also working to end the religious violence that has ravaged the country for years by serving alongside one another.

"We want peace in northern Nigeria, in Nigeria, West Africa, Africa and the world entirely," Pastor Yohanna Buru told Voice of America.

Nigeria has suffered extraordinary religious conflict in the past four decades as the terrorist group, Boko Haram, that seeks to install Shariah law in Nigeria, has killed thousands of people, many times specifically targeting Christians.

Kaduna, a city of 760,084, is located in an area known as Nigeria's "Middle Belt," a region in between the predominantly-Muslin north and predominantly Christian south.

Years of insurgency and sectarian violence have scarred the city and left the neighborhoods religiously segregated. According to Human Rights Watch, 800 people were killed after the 2011 elections.

Yet Eid, a national holiday in Nigeria, has traditionally been a time when the polarized groups crossed religious lines and celebrated together. But in anticipation of a potential conflict, security forces are taking no chances; heavily armed police officers and soldiers have patrolled a festival widely attended by both groups.

Nigerian journalist, Walter Uba, said security concerns led him to send his six children away to the capital, Abuja, for Eid.

"The full security is not that fully guaranteed because anybody can breach security at any time, at any place," Uba told Voice of America.

"These are the spots where they want to come and kill and maim children, even plus the parents so I am not thinking of that. In short, as far as any celebration is concerned in this country rule me out until when that full security in Nigeria comes back to what it used to be. But, as of now, no," he added.

Sani Ibrahim, an artist, who attended the Eid concert, said that the increased security should make the city's residents feel safer - not more endangered.

"It's peace now. Now in Kaduna we are in peace with Muslims and Christians we are together now," he said.

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