Correspondence

Letter to Harper - Nigeria

Posted by Shawn on March 27, 2012

Dear Prime Minister Harper:

I am a Canadian citizen, writing out of concern for religious freedom in Nigeria.
Nigeria has seen much persecution of Christians. Its population is divided primarily between Christians and Muslims. Its history is filled with violent jihads as Nigeria's Muslim population has fought hard to try to make Nigeria, a secular state, into an Islamic state. Muslims have not succeeded in their goal, yet thousands have died in this fight. The situation in Nigeria remains tense.

In 2011, two failed bomb attacks occurred in Jos. On Sunday, March 20, three men were carrying a bomb towards two churches when the bomb went off prematurely and killed the terrorists. Also on that day, a bomb was found planted at The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos. In Bauchi, over 4,000 people were displaced by night time attacks by Muslim Fulani tribesmen.

Recently, Nigeria has seen the 2011 election of a Christian president of the country. This has resulted in massive revolts from the Muslim community. Over 31,000 people have been displaced and it is feared that hundreds of Christians have been killed. One report claims that over 500 people have been killed and over 150 churches burned. Some of the damage includes in Gombe, 38 people murdered, 146 injured, 17 churches burned and 24 houses burned. In Bauchi, 28 people killed and 78 churches burned. In Daura, 6 churches burned. In Katsina City, 7 people murdered, over 100 Christian displaced and 65 churches destroyed or damaged. In Malunfashi, 25 houses burned, one Bible school burned and 7 churches burned. In Funtua, every church (over 27) in the city was burned.

In 1999, Nigeria was re-admitted into the Commonwealth of Nations from which it had been suspended in 1995. Canada has partnered with Nigeria in many ways. Canada has provided material and training support to Nigeria. As Canada's ties with Nigeria have been strengthening, may Canada continue to support Nigeria's government in bringing security and reforms to its country.

Please use diplomatic efforts to secure protection for Christians throughout Nigeria. May Canada stand for their safety as they practice, perfect and share their faith with others.
Respectfully and sincerely,

Shawn and Ramona Stevens
cc: M.P. John Baird


Dear Mr. and Ms. Stevens:

 

Thank you for your correspondence received on July 18, 2011, in which

you express concern regarding the religious freedom in the Federal

Republic of Nigeria. I regret the delay in replying to you.

 

The issue of religious freedom is a matter which the Government of

Canada takes very seriously. In the Speech from the Throne on June 3,

2011, the Government of Canada committed to creating an Office of

Religious Freedom within Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

(DFAIT). On October 3, 2011, I held roundtable consultations on the

establishment of the Office. You may read my remarks at

http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/speeches-discours/2011/2011-034

.aspx?lang=eng&view=d. The Office will defend and advocate on behalf of

religious minorities under threat, oppose religious hatred and

intolerance, and promote core Canadian values of pluralism and

tolerance. The Office is a key component of the Canadian government's

efforts to advance human rights, including freedom of religion, around

the world.

 

As you mentioned in your correspondence, central and northern Nigeria

have been increasingly affected by inter-communal violence. Much of the

violence is a manifestation of other sources of conflict, including

competition for scarce land and government resources between "indigene"and "settler" populations. Canada has played a role in helping foster

dialogue and resolution between the communities. For example, Canada

sponsored interfaith workshops on inter-communal violence in the city of

Jos in 2010 and 2011.

 

Of particular concern is the destabilization caused by increasing

activities of radical Islamist group Boko Haram, including numerous

bombings and attacks against the United Nations, police officers,

politicians, and opposing clerics. I released a statement on November 5,

2011, denouncing attacks, including on places of worship, carried out by

this group. You may view my statement at

http://www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2011/332.aspx?

lang=eng&view=d.

 

Canada and Nigeria share strong bilateral relations based on common

values such as federalism, multiculturalism, the respect for democracy,

human rights, and the rule of law. They cooperate closely through

multilateral institutions such as the Commonwealth and the United

Nations. Efforts are underway to significantly deepen these relations.

 

The Government of Canada will continue to support the Nigerian

government in tackling its security challenges and to look for ways in

which Canada can help Nigeria overcome its challenges of inter-communal

violence.

 

Thank you for taking the time to write and express your concerns.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

John Baird, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Foreign Affairs

By posting this letter I am not claiming that the Canadian Government endorses this website.