Anglican Leader: Christians Avoided Dialogue With Muslims in Nigeria

Josiah Idowu-Fearon

Christian leaders in Nigeria failed to maximize combat against the terror group Boko Haram by refusing to engage in dialogue with Muslim leaders, said a senior leader of the Anglican Church recently.  Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon said Nigeria’s Christian leaders refused to proactively interact with their religious counterparts because they feared that Boko Haram was trying to Islamize the country with the help of local Muslim leaders, who were largely in support of the militants’ ideologies.

Established in 2002, Boko Haram initially focused on opposing western education in areas it had managed to infiltrate. Within seven years though, it had started military operations in the region. Recently, Boko Haram affiliated itself with Islamic State and renamed its caliphate as the West African Province. Boko Haram has targeted both Christians and Muslims in its attempt to impose the Islamic Sharia Law across northern Nigeria. After having killed at least 10,000 people and abducted hundreds of women and girls since it started its insurgency in 2009, last year the militants took over a large area in northeast Nigeria before being pushed out by a regional coalition involving Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Idowu-Fearon, who recently assumed the post of secretary general for the Anglican Communion, is believed to have a strong desire for dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. But his hopes have been quashed since fellow Christians have refused to engage with their Muslim counterparts, he said.

“We warned the leadership in my country, the Christian Association of Nigeria: ‘Let us listen to the Muslim leadership, because the leadership is not in support of Boko Haram.’ ‘Oh no no no,’ they said, ‘they are always deceiving us. They are all the same,’” he said.

The archbishop also pointed out that the attitude of the locals is finally starting to change, after Boko Haram has ruthlessly claimed so many lives.

“Now they are singing a different tune. ... I tell you more Muslims have been killed than Christians in the north-east of Nigeria,” he said.

It is no surprise why Idowu-Fearon left Nigeria to serve as secretary general for the Anglican Communion. From his own statements, his attempts to foster communication between Christians and Muslims amidst Boko Haram’s attacks were not always welcome. Reportedly, Idowu-Fearon also voiced his opposition to Nigeria’s latest anti-homosexuality laws, which put him at odds with most believers, including influential people from his church’s hierarchy.

In his new role though, the archbishop has a lot of responsibility and equal influence. His immediate aim is to lead the disturbed Anglican Communion’s 85 million Christians through troubled theological waters.

Photo Credits: Christian Today

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