Nigeria violence should be a concern

Ask most Americans what the United States’ top international focuses are and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are likely answers.

While recent Iraqi elections and U.S. troops pushing into Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan, those responses are understandable.

And of course for the moment, all political attention domestically is directed toward Sunday’s House vote of health care reform legislation.

Another country that bears watching for Christians especially is Nigeria. About two weeks ago nearly 500 Christians were killed by machete-wielding Muslim herdsmen. Many of the dead were women and children. Thirteen more were killed earlier this week in a smaller attack.

Tensions and killings between Christians and Muslims have spiked in recent months with property disputes as a significant factor. Add to the mix that Nigeria is a major oil supplier to the West and an unsteady governing situation prevails.

Nigerian president Umaru Yar’Adua just recently returned from traveling to Saudi Arabia in November to have a serious heart condition treated. He has not been seen in public while he was gone nor since his return.

The rise in violence has happened as acting President Goodluck Jonathan has tried to gain his bearings. Earlier this week he dissolved the country’s entire cabinet in an effort to gain more direct control.

It doesn’t take an expert political scientist to figure out that violence between ethnicities and religions can boil over when a power vacuum exists. Hopefully, this will not be the long-term case for Nigeria, but the tension in this otherwise large and diverse country should be a cause for concern.

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