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Tom's Take

March 10th, 2010
01:36 PM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption caption="Sr. Writer for Amanpour, Tom Evans, works on scripts with Christiane"]

On AMANPOUR. today, we take a look at the recent religious violence in Nigeria, which has only served to highlight the issues facing the country at a time when it appears to be suffering on many different fronts. Today, protests will take place in the seat of government power, Abuja. The protests are set against the ongoing power vacuum.  Christiane gets to the root of the latest clashes and asks if the political void will allow for a further descent into violence.  Nigeria is only one of the stories in the news today. Here are some perspectives.

Tom Evans
Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.

NIGERIA – How serious is the risk of a further escalation in ethnic violence in Nigeria?

–       Witnesses say soldiers open fire on a crowd breaking a curfew just days after fighting between Christians and Muslims left more than 200 people dead, most of them Christians
–       Residents in the Jos area in central Nigeria accuse the security forces of failing to provide security to the villages that were attacked Sunday
–       Violence is latest in series of clashes over the past decade in the country’s “middle belt” where ethnic groups are battling to control fertile farmland

QUESTION: Will the Nigerian government take decisive action before the violence escalates into a much broader conflict between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims?

ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN CONFLICT – Are indirect peace talks already at risk after Israel announced another 1,600 new homes in disputed east Jerusalem?

–       U.S. Vice President Joe Biden holds talks with Palestinian leaders today in the West Bank, in part to ease their doubts about the latest American peace efforts
–       Israel today apologizes for disrupting Biden’s visit to the region by announcing the construction of 1,600 new homes in east Jerusalem
–       Construction plans were an embarrassing setback for Biden after a day of apparently warm meetings with Israeli leaders. Biden said the Israeli move “is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now.”

QUESTION: Can the U.S. maintain the momentum for this latest peace initiative in the face of Israeli determination to push ahead with the construction of new homes in disputed territories?

AFGHANISTAN – Will American troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan earlier than the planned start date in July 2011?

–    U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Afghanistan hints, without giving details, that any early pullout and hand over of control to Afghan forces “would have to be conditions based”
–    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in a speech to be given in the U.S. today, will call on the Afghan government to push for a peace deal with the Taliban, and asks for help from Afghanistan’s neighbors in seeking a compromise
–   Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in Kabul for talks with Afghan government about their bilateral relationship and economic ties

QUESTION:  Is Iran positioning itself to expand its influence in Afghanistan when American forces begin their withdrawal?

Filed under:  1 • Tom's Take
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Ameer Raschid

    Tom's take "On AMANPOUR. today, we take a look at the recent religious violence in Nigeria,"
    Be labelling it "religious" you give a one dimensional label to the mutual massacres that have taken place which are primariy for land and power . These horrific killings are not done in the name of Islam but of tribalism withChristian or Muslim names. Coming on top of the son of Hamas interview where the "god of Muslims" is claimed to be the casue of violence and killing it reinforces the image of Islam as a religion that is indifferent to human life even though members of all religions have been guilty of violating their ethical standards which are based on Divine law, respect for humanity and justice and not nationality, racism or self interest. This is not simply labelling but branding Muslims and Islam in a way that it cannot easily be removed.
    There are those who want an all out war to isolate Muslims and Islam from the mainstream and are ready to enact laws that will result in persecution and the deprivation of rights human and legal all in the name of fighting terorrism or the specter of a takeover by an intolerant and dangerous ideology or by having a culture that is incompatible with Judaeo-Christian (Bhuddist and Hindu etc) civilized modern and secular values. The media can join in this McCarthy-like witchunt and demonization or carefull present a balanced analysis in the face of a public that has an "eating frenzy" being fed by supporters of Israel, fundamentalist Christians, narrow secularists and atheists.
    This can be a cold "War of Civilizations" or cultural values or a hotter war driven by fanatics who have the "Nuke them" mentality.
    Once the nervous masses are brought to a feverish level of fear it only takes a small incident to start a stampede which cannot easily be sstopped. CNN as an international news media should notlower itslef to the level of Fox News to gain viewers.

    March 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  2. Ameer Raschid

    My comment is awaiting "moderation". I hope I have not been immoderate in my analysis!

    March 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  3. Ameer Raschid

    Tom's question:QUESTION: Will the Nigerian government take decisive action before the violence escalates into a much broader conflict between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims?

    "But contrary to many news reports, Nigeria’s bishops and the Holy See stress the conflict is more about ethnicity and politics than religion. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi expressed the Holy See’s “concern and horror” over the wave of violence in the country, and said Monday that it appeared the Christians had been attacked not for religious but for social reasons. "

    March 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  4. LarryB

    When will we be honest about WHERE most of the violence in the African conflicts is coming from.

    It isn't "just some nebulous" conflict.

    It is MUSLIMS attacking Christians and very seldom Christians retaliating.

    But in the West, we are SO politically incorrect that we cannot name Islam as the SOURCE of most of the conflicts in the world today!

    March 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  5. kadir Thaofik

    we ar getting it wrong, the political leaders ar causing all this unrest by diverting the attention of the masses thru deceitful `brainwash and they end up tagging it religious crisis.
    we should ask ourselves, ar these people just realizing their differences after living together for so long. am a Nigerian , and its a common knowledge in Nigeria that families ar made up of both religions nd they live without sentiments.
    The truth is we dont hav leaders but rulers with selfish interests nd not national interests in that part of the world.

    March 10, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Reply


    March 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  7. kadir Thaofik

    The government will only cash on the latest development to empower nd enrich their friends nd cronies at the expense of the masses.
    without soverign national conference in that country nd have a masses enscripted costituition, the country will continue like this.

    March 10, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  8. Kadir Thaofik

    Iran is only playing a brotherly role by showing concern about what is happening in Afghanistan, we should not be sentimental about issues, no religion in this world supports terrorism or extremism. we all need to stand by Afghanistan in their fight against extremism nd terror on their soil so that those innocent people of Afghanistan can enjoy true freedom nd independence.

    March 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  9. Alagbe Steven Sheyi

    I keenly watched Amanpour, the edition on the recurrent crisis in the middle belt of Nigeria and wish to add as thus:
    -That a critical re-visitation of our sovereign constitution be frankly embarked upon, because i see no reason why a Governor of a state constitutionally addressed as chief security officer of the state cannot order the head of security agents to deploy men to areas prone to attack based on intelligent report he received and which defiance of should attract severe punishment. The slaughter will have been averted if the security heads were responsible and honest. The crisis is assuming a religious one as can be seen in how the security personnel are handling the issue and this could degenerate into a civil war.

    March 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  10. LarryB

    Kadir, "Iran is only playing a brotherly role..."

    I think NOT!

    And contrary to what you claim, there is ONE religion that supports terrorism and is the source of MOST of the terrorist attacks in the world and is the CAUSE of most of the conflicts in the world today.

    Unfortunately, it is also the 'religion' that claims it is the 'religion of peace'! What a misnomer!

    I agree with you that we need to stand with Afghanistan (or ANY country) against extremism and terrorism!

    March 11, 2010 at 12:08 am | Reply
  11. Yakubu MAGAJI , From Bauchi State- NIGERIA.

    Question: Whether the Nign. Govt.will take a decisive action before the violence escalates into a much broader conflicts between the christians and the muslims ?.
    Ans.Some times questions are bieng asked without reference to the past why ?.How long has this violence been in existence between the Christians and the muslims in Nigeria now ?.History will continue to repeat it self always in NIgeria.This is not the first violence,neither is it the second time nor the 20th times.
    What we currently have today in Nigeria ,is a disaster and a catastrophic caricature democracy and very chaotic and a similitude of anarchy.When the Africans blame the west for our failing states, it hurts me and finally laugh at us why ?.
    How can you continue to complaint of the same trouser stolen by the western world,if at all they it, since 1960 we were freed from their hands ,in the case of Nigeria.So since from then,we have no money to buy another trouser for ourselves,because our trouser was stolen ?. The truth of the matter is that in Nigeria today, 99% of the Govt.officials, politicians,govt.Agencies,public offices,security agencies,the Judiciary,Executives,parliaments,senates,house of representatives, party officials,the congress, private organisations,civil services they are all liars ,cheats,crooks,criminals;, since from 1963 ,just three years after the departure of our honest and faithful masters(the west) money laundering,glaring corruption,misgovernance, lack of justice,inequality,lack of security,misappropriation of funds,embezzlements ,lack of transparencies,RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES come to play a greater role,sectionalism ,tribalism, bigmanism i.e I am at the top, you dont talk to me or criticise me in any way I am your boss,so that creats a room for corruption or stealing tax-payers money without bieng investigated and punished. So that Nigeria is ranked as the most corrupt country in all the nations in the world. Now coupled with the religion , they use it to disguise their criminal,corrupt and immoral activities to forget their glaring corrupt attitudes bieng investigated and prosecuted. And most of these,if not all,the Nigerian politicians ,had no day jobs,before they entered politics,and so politics in Nigeria has turned to be a big business for the criminals,and so they pay poor ones for political assassinations,murders,cultism thereby quoting religious books to represent their moral justification for their atrocities.So that no decent man or woman with human reputation would want to engage in Nigerian politics. They slaughter the basic truth and cover it up with religion and or the west have stolen our money.
    Now who in Nigeria among all the classes of people mentioned above will take a decisive action against either the muslims or the christians violences ? Nothing good in Nigeria, will ever come out as long as these groups of people are still leaving until the end of the world,where every body is going to give account of himself on the judgment day, if only they believe there will be any.
    So forget about whether Govt.will take decisive action,life is too cheap in Africa generally,cheaper than the second hand clothes in the markets.So that is how we will continue killing ourselves,as long as the International community will continue to remain unconcern about our AGONIES.
    Yakubu MAGAJI

    March 11, 2010 at 3:05 am | Reply
  12. Kadir Thaofik

    LarryB, i dont know how much of the world's history u know but i think u need to get abreast with it as ur claims of Islam being the cause of the conflict in the world is very wrong and bias. lets face facts for the sake of the upcoming generation nd deal with the cacker worm threatening to divide humanity. i'm a Nigerian nd most part of that country has christians nd muslims live under the same roof, in the same family, nd coexist harmoniously.
    Why is Iran angry with the U.S? It's because Iran sees US as been bias towards the Isreali- Palastain conflict.
    Why was Saddam Hussein ousted nd killed? it's because he was rebelled against US after they supported him against Iran.
    Why is Bin Ladden the no 1 terrorist in the world(by US) ? He was trained nd used by the US nd he later rebelled against them bcos he knows too much.
    Ar these issues nd many more not enough to trigger extemism?
    Islam does not condone extremism or terrorism, nd who so ever kills another in the name of Islamic religion other bthan a holy war stands to be judged by Allah not me or u LarryB. I'll also advice u seek knowledge about Islam b4 u make a comment about it.

    March 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Reply
  13. Kadir Thaofik

    Mr Magaji, i had to go back nd read the comment i posted nd i could not find where i told B. Smith to go read the Qura'an.
    I will appreciate it if constructive criticism is adhered to not just trying to defend ur religion by quoting verses nd interpretting them wrongly, i will also not dwell into all u mentioned about one God being different from another nd vise versa, these are blasfermy nd i wouldn't be part of it. What i was telling Mr Smith is seeking for the Islamic knowledge, knowing truely what Islam says about certain issues nd not assuming, bcos a muslim did something u draw a conclusion that it's the iIslamic prescription to do that. Lets talk about issues not personalities involved in such issues my dear, am a proud muslim nd my way of life is Islamic nd not EXTREMISM, as we hav muslim extremist nd terrorist so we hav the christians too, so what we are saying is what we need to do to eliminate this unholy act amongst mankind not throw blames at one another.

    March 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  14. LarryB

    Dear Kadir,

    Wow! What a a bunch of nonsense in your last post about Iran and Palestine and Saddam Hussein and bin Laden, etc etc!!!

    Thank you for encouraging me to learn about Islam before I make a comment about it! lol I know more than you can imagine! And I would guess that right now YOU are just practicing taqqiya in order to mislead other people on this forum! [For those of you who are not muslim, 'taqqiya' is the well formed doctrine in Islam that says that it is ok to LIE and DECEIVE people if it advances the cause of Islam! And that is what Kadir is doing here!]

    Kadir, I have had THREE....yes, THREE....friends MURDERED by Muslims simply because they were Christians! But it is nice to know that Islam is a 'religion of peace' or I cannot imagine how many more of my friends would have been murdered! Like the 6 Coptic Christians who were murdered by a Muslim mob when they came out of their church on Christmas eve in Egypt. But I suppose you are going to tell us that that NEVER happened!

    A 'wise man' once said, "i dont know how much of the world's history u know but i think u need to get abreast with it " and those are VERY wise words! I would suggest you follow them Kadir rather than practicing TAQQIYA here and trying to mislead people about Islam!

    I have been in the Gaza Strip AND the West Bank! Have you?! So don't lecture me about Palestinians! Some of my dearest friends are Palestinians! Who are living under threat of DEATH from Muslims!

    I would suggest you read SON OF HAMAS, the new book written by the son of one of the FOUNDERS of Hamas. He will tell you what Islam does! But then I suppose according to YOU, he doesn't know what he is talking about. After all, he is only a muslim who grew up in the West Bank and was involved in Palestinian terrorism! And now lives under death threats from muslims!!

    Kadir, you are showing your muslim bias and your willingness to lie. Either you do not know what Islam really teaches or you are LYING about it. Which is it?!

    We ALL want to know, Kadir!

    March 11, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  15. LarryB

    Kadir, I forgot to respond to one of your other points.

    You said, "Islam does not condone extremism or terrorism, nd who so ever kills another in the name of Islamic religion other bthan a holy war stands to be judged by Allah not me"

    Everyone, do you notice how Kadir slipped in the little phrase "other than a holy war"?

    Well that little phrase leaves a door open to TERRORISM that you can drive an explosives laden truck through!

    That justifies killing EVERYONE except Muslims! In fact, according to Muhammed and the quran, they are COMMANDED to kill...."SLAY the infidel wherever you find them!" Words straight from Allah in the Quran!

    And muslims are forbidden from questioning allah, the quran or muhammed on pain of death!

    So one more time, Kadir is practicing 'taqqiya'....LYING to advance the cause of Islam! Sad but true.

    So we will wait for you to explain yourself, Kadir. And tell us how wrong we are and that islam is a religion of peace that is the CAUSE of 90% of the conflicts going on in the world right now!

    March 11, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  16. LarryB

    Kadir, why are you so SILENT when your taqqiya is exposed!

    Tell us why you would lie to everyone about what muslims do and what Islam commands?!?!?!

    March 16, 2010 at 4:58 am | Reply
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