Published: 09:54 GMT Daylight Time - Wednesday 27 April 2011
Violent Muslim protests continue in Nigeria following re-election of Christian
Country/Region: Nigeria, Africa
Christian women in Nigeria, which has been beset by post-election violence
Mobs armed with machetes and poison-tipped arrows have been wreaking havoc across the Muslim-majority Northern states following the defeat of Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim candidate from the North, in the poll on 16 April. Christians have been killed, houses and churches torched and property looted by the Muslim rioters. The Red Cross estimates that 74,000 people have been displaced by the violence. Many Christians had to celebrate Easter in military barracks where they had taken shelter from the riots.
A Christian leader in the Northern Nigerian state of Kaduna said:
Christians in northern Nigeria are being killed and their churches and property destroyed for voting for the candidate of their choice... Why should Christians be killed just because someone won an election?
Explosions in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, Borno State, over the Easter weekend killed at least three people and wounded at least 15. Islamist sect Boko Haram, which is believed to have been behind a series of attacks and shootings in recent months, was blamed for the bombings. The group had distributed flyers on Sunday saying they "are fighters waging Jihad in Nigeria" and:
We will never accept any system of governance apart from the one described by Islam because that is the only way Muslims can be liberated... We will continue to fight [the Nigerian government's] military and police because they are not protecting Islam.
There are fears of further violence as Nigerians go to the polls again this week to elect 36 state governors; polls have been delayed in two of the worst hit states, Kaduna and Bauchi, until Thursday (28) with the rest of the country voting on Tuesday (26).
Mr Jonathan was re-elected with 57 per cent of the vote; ex-military ruler Mr Buhari polled 31 per cent. The latter's supporters allege that the election was rigged, though international observers called this election the fairest in decades.
It has become convention in Nigeria, which is divided between the majority-Muslim North and a largely Christian South, for the presidency to alternate between a Christian and a Muslim. Many in the North felt the next president should have been from their region. Mr Jonathan, a Christian from the South, assumed the presidency last year upon the death of incumbent Umaru Yar'Ardua, a Northern Muslim whom he had served as vice president.
There is a long history of tensions between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, with spates of sectarian violence, especially in the Middle Belt states where the population is more evenly mixed.
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