Religion is not the cause of political violence. Political violence is caused by politicians who use religion as vehicle to bring forth division among the people and hence achieve their political ambitions. While religious diversity does not necessary guarantee sectarian conflicts, some groups of people have used religious diversity fuel conflicts in countries like Nigeria with the main objective of promoting their political agenda. Politicians in the Nigerian city of Jos do understand that Christians and Muslims have fundamental differences. They therefore seek to exploit these differences in order to gain a competitive advantage politically over their rivals. Instead ensuring that essential services like water, electricity and quality education have been provided to the people, they promote poverty and division between Christians and Muslims in order to take advantage of these differences in marshalling support for their continuous re-election.
There have been many conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the Nigerian city of Jos. These conflicts have resulted in deaths of many people. Men, women and children have lost their lives time and again following these conflicts. It is unfortunate to state that the political will to resolve these conflicts has not been demonstrated by politicians from both sides. This has led to persistence in attacks by one group against another (O’Neil 2012). In one period, Muslims could attack Christians causing loss of many lives. This is then followed by retaliatory attacks by Christians who would then cause an equally large number of lives lost. A closer examination of these conflicts reveals that the fundamental cause of the conflict is not necessarily the differences in beliefs of Muslims and Christians but rather other factors which can be solved with ease by the government and political leaders. Such problems include poor distribution of resources among these people, insufficient social amenities like security, electricity water housing and even educational facilities. The people within this region to persistently fight each other out of frustration because regardless of the fact that they pay taxes to the government, they cannot access adequate services for which they have a right to access.
In the Mexican case, the conflict was between the government and the Roman Catholic Church. In this country, over eighty per cent of the population is Catholic. The church therefore wanted to have a significant influence on the manner in which the country s governed. However, the government agencies had a strong belief in secularism which does not condone any religion’s influence on the government. This created a big conflict between the government and the church resulting in confrontations within the country for the better part of the twentieth century (O’Neil, Fields and Share 2012). This conflict still exists whereby the church advocates for its involvement in the governance of the country through means like policy formulation while the government on the other hand does not support this proposition. An examination of this conflict reveals that it is not actually religion that is causing the conflict between the two parties but rather fundamental differences in the manner in which the government should conduct its affairs.
It is therefore important to conclude that religious diversity does not necessary guarantee sectarian conflicts and that likewise religious homogeneity does not necessarily a prerequisite for sectarian peace. Whether prevails or not is factor dependent on the manner in which people treat one another, how national resources are shared and also how the governance is conducted. Religion is only used to conceal the real reasons behind the conflicts.
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Patrick H. O’Neil, Essentials of Comparative Politics. Manhattan: W W Norton & Company Incorporated, 2012. Print
Patrick H. O’Neil, Karl J. Fields, Donald Share Cases in Comparative. Politics Manhattan: W W Norton & Company Incorporated, 2012. Print