CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM LEADERS CALL FOR PEACE IN CAMEROON

by Illia Djadi

Christian and Muslim leaders in northern Cameroon have reiterated their call for tolerance and peace in the face of a surge of terror attacks by the Nigerian radical Islamic group Boko Haram.

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A multi-faith gathering in Mora gathered to discuss tolerance in the face of the threat from Boko Haram, 2016 WWM

On 21 Jan., several prominent religious leaders gathered in the town of Mora to discuss peaceful coexistence.

The conference, titled “Living in peace in the sight of God”, was co-chaired by the Sultan of Wandala, Boukar Alhaji Yerima Brahim; Rev. Gregory Cador, Episcopal Vicar of Mora; and Rev. Samuel Heteck, president of the Protestant Churches Council in northern Cameroon.

In their speeches, the religious leaders emphasised that both Islam and Christianity promote tolerance and peace.

“Without a doubt, this day marks the beginning of a long march together, hand in hand, Christians and Muslims looking in the same direction in order to eradicate violence and terrorism,” the Sultan of Wandala said. The conference, he said, “will not only strengthen the brotherhood between our two religious groups, but also helps to boost the momentum that we support as custodians of the divine law”.

The Sultan denounced widely circulating video footage on social media and jihadist outlets, glorifying violence in the name of Islam.

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Mora in northern Cameroon, now ‘a battlefield for Boko Haram WWM

 

He urged Christian and Muslim leaders to persevere in their role as educators, by preaching love and brotherhood within families, communities and places of worship. He also called on all followers of different religious groups to increase “our common determination to counter the inhumane and barbaric ideology of Boko Haram”.
Jonas Gadjabougou, a pastor speaking on behalf of Protestant churches, said Christians in a situation of violence and deep crisis must strive to show mercy and compassion, like the Biblical example of the Good Samaritan.

“Blessed is a generous man because the memory of the righteous shall dwell forever,” Gadjabougou said.

Rev. Cador stressed the importance of “inclusive and universal brotherhood”, while inviting the participants to “break the spiral of violence and hatred”.

The interfaith meeting was not unlike a Christian-Muslim dialogue held in April 2014 about 50 kilometres to the south, in Maroua, Cameroon.

The talk of solidarity and brotherhood in Mora occurred against a backdrop of deteriorating security in the region. Despite the noticeable presence of military reinforcements, northern Cameroon has become a battlefield for Boko Haram, whose violent campaign to impose Islamic law on Nigeria has spread to neighbouring Niger and Chad. Deadly suicide attacks, mainly targeting markets, places of worship and other gatherings, are taking place on a weekly, or sometimes daily, basis.

Some 25 suicide attacks hit the region, and claimed 84 lives, just in the month of January 2016, according to an official toll.

According to a report for the 27 Jan.–2 Feb. period by the Switzerland-based Assessment Capacities Project, Boko Haram killed 86 and injured 62 in Borno State, Nigeria, when it set fire to the village of Dalori. Another 13 were killed and 30 injured in an attack on the Nigerian town of Chibok. And when Cameroon announced its troops were searching for Boko Haram, 40 people were found dead shortly thereafter.

Islamist insurgency

The wave of violence has dramatically hampered trade and weighed heavily on the economy of the region.

Islamist insurgency has significantly changed daily life. In Mora, which serves as the base for a Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram, Sunday services were cancelled in Protestant and Catholic churches in October and November. Christmas and New Year vigils, likewise, were cancelled.

Though the places of worship have re-opened, the number of worshipers has decreased, a local church leader told World Watch Monitor.

Only men are permitted to attend services; the movements of women in Mora remain prohibited on Saturdays and Sundays, because most attacks have been committed by female suicide bombers.

However, the church leader said there is an awareness of the global response to the crisis and that this has helped to strengthen a spirit of solidarity between Christians and Muslims. Groups of Christian and Muslim youths patrol outside mosques on Fridays and churches on Sundays, he said.

He said their way of dealing with the situation has changed and that they are now praying for a change of heart among the militants, while sermons focus more on encouraging Christians to persevere amid difficult circumstances.

 

Source: World Watch Monitor

86 dead as Boko Haram burns kids alive

Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY

Members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram burned children alive as part of an attack in Nigeria that killed at least 86 people, according to survivors and witnesses.

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Women and children sit among burnt houses after Boko Haram attacks at Dalori village on the outskirts of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria on Jan. 31, 2016.(Photo: STRINGER, AFP/Getty Images)

The incident happened Saturday night in the village of Dalori in northeastern Nigeria. Two nearby camps housing 25,000 people who have fled Boko Haram were also attacked.

A solider at the scene told the Associated Press that three female suicide bombers blew themselves up as part of the assault, but there was little information about the sequence of events that led to the deaths of the children and USA TODAY was not able to immediately verify the account.

Mohammed Kanar, the area coordinator of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, said 86 bodies, many of them charred and riddled with bullets, were collected by Sunday afternoon.

Abba Musa of the country’s State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri, the largest city in the area, said 62 survivors were being treated for burns.

Survivor Alamin Bakura told the AP that several of his family members were killed or wounded in the the attack, which lasted for nearly four hours.

Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reported that the attack came despite claims by the government that Boko Haram militants no longer had the ability to carry out such major attacks, other than through suicide bombings. Nigeria previously said that its military drove the extremists out of towns and villages in the region last year.

Soldiers who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press said that government troops arrived at Dalori but could not overpower the better-armed militants. They said the extremists only retreated after more troops arrived with heavier weapons.

Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — and killed about 20,000 people and driven 2.5 million Nigerians from their homes over a six-year period.

Source: USA Today

Nick the Locksmith

It’s amazing how young children can sometimes be given to fantasy. Let them read or watch a video about a character they admire, and before you know it, they’ll soon be impersonating that character.

So it was with seven year old Ray Barnett. He loved the comic book characters of the day and was particularly drawn to ‘Nick the Locksmith’. No door was a barrier to Nick who had a key to fit any lock, or if not he would simply ‘pick’ the lock until the door opened. Soon, the young Ray was amassing his own collection of keys, and whether it was a door to a building or HM mailbox, Ray would soon have it opened.

Of course, as was the case with Nick, there was no malice or theft of any kind going on. It was a sort of compensation for feeling ‘out of it’ in many ways. Although they didn’t realise it at the time, Ray suffered from a form of dyslexia which affected his coordination and therefore his ability to play sports, etc. So he had hobbies like key collecting to keep himself amused and what he considered to be ‘out of mischief’. His dyslexia deprived him of many of the normal activities that children enjoy but it was almost as if God compensated for that by giving him an extra helping when it came to being creative.

It was when he decided to make the postal system more efficient that he did get into trouble, however, at least with an older brother who had become suspicious. Ray knew that post boxes were emptied and mail then delivered to the main post office. So he decided that he would ‘help out’ and see that mail was delivered even more quickly by opening the postbox, collecting the mail and then re-posting it at the post office. But suspicious big brother followed Ray on his bicycle one day, and witnessed it all. A severe reprimand and threat of exposure of this hobby with the inevitable punishment from ‘dad’, brought it all to an end.

Thankfully, the creative imagination that Ray had developed as a child, continued and was nurtured throughout his adult years. So when African children were starving and dying in Africa, Ray came up with a plan that no one had come up with before – an African Children’s Choir that would travel and perform in affluent countries and raise money for the survival of families and communities back home. Decades later, tens of thousands of African children are grateful for the boy who was disadvantaged and not considered ‘normal’, but who used his disadvantage positively. Ray Barnett has made the world a better place, by coming up with creative solutions to problems in under developed countries, time after time.

Kenyans honour ‘hero’ Muslim who saved Christians

by Teo Kermeliotis

A social media campaign to raise funds for the family of a Muslim teacher who died protecting Christians during an attack in Kenya is gaining traction, with people hailing him as a “genuine hero” and a symbol of the country.

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After Farah’s death, an online campaign was started to raise funds for the teacher’s family [Jill Craig/VOA]

Salah Farah was shot after refusing to be separated from Christian passengers during an al-Shabab attack on a bus travelling from Mandera to Nairobi last month.

He succumbed to his wounds on Sunday, leaving behind four young children aged between two and 10, and a pregnant wife who is expected to give birth as soon as next week.

After his death, an online campaign was started to raise funds for the teacher’s family.

“Salah is a hero,” Abdullahi Derow, the 26-year-old activist who started the #HeroSalah Twitter campaign, told Al Jazeera.

“He was the only male child in his family, his father is now very old and his kids are very small,” Nairobi-based Derow, who is also from Mandera, said.
“I tried to think about how we can do this for the family, as Kenyans, at least to appreciate what he has done not only for Kenyans but for humanity,” explained Derow, who got the approval of Farah’s cousin Rashid, and now guardian to his children, before launching the campaign.

Rashid confirmed to Al Jazeera that the family had given the go-ahead.

“The children need a shelter, they need education, they need to be cared [for],” Rashid told Al Jazeera. “The father and mother are the same.”

He added: “Salah was well-respected, a religious man, who had just been promoted to deputy headmaster of a big primary school – he was having a lot of respect in the village”.

So far, the campaign has raised over 150,000 Kenyan shillings ($1,460) mainly through the M-Pesa money transfer service, with donations ranging from $200 – sent by a female university professor in Canada – to just a few shillings.

“Even if someone sends just a few shillings, it can make a big difference,” Derow said.

Despite being pushed out of Somalia’s major cities and towns, al-Shabab continues to launch deadly attacks across the Horn of Africa country.

The group, which last week assaulted a military base run by Kenyan troops as part of an African Union force in the Somali town of El-Ade, has also carried out many attacks inside Kenya.

Derow said the outpouring of support for the campaign was sending a “clear message” to al-Shabab that Kenyans were united.

“There is a feeling of patriotism. Kenyans are feeling by helping the family of #HeroSalah and educating his children is a defiance to al-Shabab,” he said.

“We are one in honouring our heroes.”

 

Source:  AlJazeera