Conflict & Justice

It's not an easy place to live for this tag team pair of a pastor and an imam

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Credit: Allan Leonard for GlobalPost

Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa with conference organizer Padraig O'Malley.

Residents of the northern Nigeria city of Kaduna live in a tinderbox. 

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Violence is an everyday occurence in this painfully segregated city. 

Muslims live mainly in the north. Christians in the south.

A shadowy rebel group called Boko Haram exploits the divide, spreading terror with attacks on schools, churches, and police stations. 
 
Kaduna might sound like an unlikely venue for an international peace conference.  But it's hosting one: the 4th International Conference of the Forum for Cities in Transition. The gathering brings together some 200 delegates and observers.  They come from conflict zones around the globe, including Lebanon, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. 
 
Charles Sennott, the founding editor of Global Post is there. And he says he's met two extraordinary Kaduna leaders, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye.
 
"They're a tag team," Sennott says. "Pastor James runs a large Pentecostal church here and was very hardline and militant in the mid 90s. This sort of braggadocio is part of the Nigerian character and he felt that way about his faith and he was really part of a militancy that was emerging at that time. On the other side of town was a imam in one of the larger mosques here who was very similar, also very militant."
 
But the two men have become friends. 
 
Sennott says the pair have "sort of single-handedly led this community to try to move forward."

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