More than 200 Muslims protected Christians from a potential attack during Christmas celebrations in the central Nigerian city of Kaduna, according to local media reports.
A cleric in the city, Pastor Yohanna Buru of the Christ Evangelical Church, confirmed that the Muslim youth volunteers had carried out the act of interfaith harmony during his interview with the New Agency of Nigeria (Nan).
“I really appreciate their love and care,” he said of their involvement in the Christmas service.
Buru said that the gesture was one of the first of its kind in the city following a series of attacks perpetrated by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, who have previously conducted suicide bombings on churches in the central Nigeria state.
The cleric added that the volunteers helped to protect Christians as part of continued efforts by authorities to strengthen ties between the Muslim and Christian communities in the country, which is traditionally divided along religious lines.
According to Nigeria’s Daily Post, Buru expressed his happiness at the gesture and said that it was proof that peace would last between the two religions in the region. He spoke of his hope that other states in Nigeria would emulate such gestures.
Kaduna is situated in the country’s restive “Middle Belt” region, the dividing line between majority Christian and Muslim regions in Nigeria where religious clashes have been prominent.
Hundreds of people have died in the past year in the “Middle Belt”, where largely Muslim Fulani cattle-herders frequently clash with settled Christian communities and Muslim Hausa farmers. The semi-nomadic Fulani accuse farmers of taking over vital grazing lands and water resources.