Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathen attends a welcoming ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 10, 2013. Nigeria's finance minister says Jonathen's visit to China will finalize $1.1 billion in low-interest loans for much-needed infrastructure in Nigeria. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo
ABUJA, Nigeria, July 9 (UPI) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called on members of the Muslim community to offer special prayers of peace during the holy month of Ramadan.
Jonathan, a Christian, offered a statement of support for Muslims in Nigeria as they start the holy month of fasting.
"The president prays that God almighty will grant the prayers of the faithful during Ramadan, reward them bountifully and grant Nigeria greater peace, security, unity and national harmony," a presidential statement published by Nigerian newspaper The Nation said.
Nigeria is divided along Muslim and Christian lines. Islamic militant group Boko Haram was suspected of attacking a boarding school in northern Nigeria, leaving more than 40 children and a teacher dead in a Saturday assault.
Jonathan's message called on "all persons of the faith [Islam]" who may have been misled by extremists or international terrorists into taking up arms against the state to respect "Islam's true lessons of love and peaceful co-existence with others" during Ramadan.
The British government said Monday it was considering adding Boko Haram to its list of organizations banned under counter-terrorism legislation.
A state of emergency over parts of Nigeria was relaxed last week to facilitate Muslim obligations during Ramadan.