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Upheaval in Nigeria


Nigeria: the story media outlets are not reporting (June 2004)


News Bulletin

(from ChristianityTodayOnline): Nigerian Archbishop Demands Justice Peter Akinola affirms warning to government and Muslims, fires back on the Western press. (April 20, 2006)

Professor Keener responds:

I have spent time in northern Nigeria, and the Archbishop is speaking the truth. The western media reported when “Christians” massacred a few hundred “Muslims” in the “Muslim” town of Yelwa, but they took the matter completely out of context. A few years before local non-Muslims retaliated against Muslims there, I taught 60 pastors in Yelwa—which was not an exclusively Muslim town, and was in a mostly Christian state. I was conversing with some church leaders over a meal and overheard a Muslim from outside the area instructing local Muslims negatively about my presence (though I could only reconstruct it from the gestures and the few words of Hausa I recognized).

The next year, the Christians were slaughtered or driven out of Yelwa, and their churches burned. Thousands of Christians were murdered by jihadists throughout that state, starting just a few days before the infamous Sept. 11 in the U.S.A. But in contrast with the U.S. response to jihadists’ attack, nothing was done effectively to protect the Christians in Plateau state, and they received no media attention. Tens of thousands of people became internally displaced refugees.

Finally, some non-Muslims in the area retaliated. The media response, which blamed the Christians, invited the slaughter of hundreds of Christians in Kano; my friend’s contact there reported that all the morgues and refrigeration units were full—but the official report said only a few were dead, and their faith was not specified. To this date, I am more likely to see media reports saying how Muslims and Christians kill each other, or giving inflated figures for Muslim casualties and negligible figures for Christian casualties. That Christians turned the other cheek for years is routinely ignored. Yet how long would Americans have turned the other cheek? (It was only a matter of days, as I recall, before the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan.) We have a real double standard here.

The archbishop is right to work against the violence. But he is also right to be sensitive to the youth who are tired of turning the other cheek. Violence cannot solve anything and violence cannot win. But we need to understand what motivates it so we can address it.

Grace be with you,


April 20, 2006

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Category: Church History

About the Author: Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Baker Academic, 2011), the bestselling IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation. In addition to having written more than seventy academic articles, several booklets and more than 150 popular-level articles, Craig is is the New Testament editor (and author of most New Testament notes) for the The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. He is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who is from the Republic of Congo, and together they have worked for ethnic reconciliation in North America and Africa. Craig and Médine wrote Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds (Chosen, 2016) to share their story. Twitter: @keener_craig

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