Vienna, 15 October 2012 – Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger expressed shock about the killing of 20 people in North Nigeria last weekend. Most of the victims were worshippers on their way home from prayers in their local mosque. Spindelegger condemned the bloody deed and expressed his sympathy for the families of the victims. He stressed that the perpetrators must be found and put to trial.
“Freedom of religion means to be able to practice your faith without fear. All people in Nigeria are called upon to respect the various religions and religious orientations. Social peace will only be achieved if religious tolerance and respect for others is practiced”, Spindelegger said.
Repeated acts of violence have been committed in Nigeria against people attending religious services in churches or mosques. A deadly attack on worshippers close to the capital of Abuja on Christmas last year saw more than thirty people killed.
When visiting the country this summer, the Foreign Minister also paid a visit to the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria. He said that he had found Christian and Muslim leaders prepared for dialogue and peace. “The rekindling of violence against people practicing their religion is the work of a small extremist minority. The overwhelming majority of people in Nigeria, Christians or Muslims, want to live in peace with the other religious group”, Spindelegger said.
He also underlined the importance of dialogue between representatives of religious communities for peaceful coexistence and referred to the centre for interreligious dialogue that will be officially opened in Vienna on 26 November.
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