Religious Bigotry Behind Violence in Nigerian Church Bombings

Rabbi Saperstein: "The bombings are a grim reminder that religious intolerance remains a threat to peace and security around the world."


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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 29, 2011 - In response to coordinated attacks on churches in Nigeria last week, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:


On Christmas Day, a militant Islamic group staged multiple attacks on church services in Nigeria, killing more than 50 people. The perpetrators, members of a group called Boko Haram, which, in the Nigerian language Hausa, means "Western education is sinful," aim to impose Sharia law across the entire Christian and Muslim-mixed country.


Such malevolent acts of terror are unjustifiable. These brutal actions violate the most fundamental principles of human rights, which guarantee the freedom to practice the religion of one's choosing, including the right to worship in safety. The bombings are a grim reminder that religious intolderance remains a threat to peace and security around the world. 


Our tradition teaches us that "God said to Moses: Is there anyone whom I do not respect? Whether it be Israelite or Gentile, man or woman, slave or handmaid, whoever does a good deed, shall find the reward at its side" (Midrash Yalku Lekh Leka 76).


Therefore, we must work to ensure that humankind is free of religious discrimination. It is our obligation as a people who have endured persecution to work to prevent tragedies like the Nigerian bombings for everyone everywhere.