Christians are being massacred in Nigeria by Fulani and Boko Haram jihadists — and no one seems to care. Pictured: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, from a November 2018 Boko Haram propaganda video.
The most severe persecution of these defenseless Christians — who make up half of Nigeria’s total population — has been taking place mostly in the Muslim north of the country, which is governed by sharia law, and in the states known as the “Middle Belt,” which are a transition zone between the northern and southern states.
According to the human rights organization International Christian Concern (ICC):
“Fulani militants continued to carry out violent attacks throughout Nigeria’s Middle Belt region in March. The brutal attacks perpetrated by these hardline Islamic militants persistently spark fear among Christians living in the Middle Belt, as death tolls continue to rise… Last month [March 2019], at least 150 people were killed.
“… Nigerian bishop William Amove Avenya of Benue State said, ‘Fulani tribesmen armed to the teeth, are murdering pregnant women and children, and destroying our smallholdings.
“‘This is a time bomb that threatens to ignite the whole region. We cannot wait for a mass genocide to happen before intervening,’ he added.
“… Below are the largest attacks that took place in March:
ICC Regional Manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson, who recently visited Nigeria, told Gatestone that this deadly violence began less than 20 years ago.
“It really only started in 2001, after riots between Muslims and Christians in the Plateau region left more than 1,000 people dead and many churches destroyed. There were also deadly riots in 2008 and 2010, and the tension between the two communities has been growing ever since.”
Johnson noted that the current violence, which has been getting worse since early 2017, “is slightly different, in that it is a series of targeted attacks on Christian communities attempting to displace farmers and take land for herders.”
He said that the hostility includes a complex set of factors — socio-economic (herder vs. farmer), ethnic (mainly Fulani vs. everyone else except Hausa) and religious (Muslim vs. Christian), however:
“The Nigerian government and the mainstream media have downplayed the fact that radical Muslims are slaughtering Christian communities in Nigeria. They would much rather describe the crisis as a clash between two ethnic or socio-economic communities who are killing each other — even though nearly 80% of the casualties are Christians.”
“Christians in Nigeria are treated as second-class citizens in the twelve northern states, where sharia law is implemented. They are victimized in many ways. Christian girls are kidnapped and forced into marriage to Muslim men. Pastors are abducted for ransom. Churches are vandalized or completely destroyed.
“The Christians I met during my recent trip to Nigeria, who have suffered from both the Fulani and Boko Haram, are hoping that others around the world are concerned about and praying for them. Many lack food, water and shelter, because they have been driven off their lands and into cities where they cannot farm or find work. Hundreds of thousands of Christian children across the country are unable to go to school because their parents cannot afford it, do not have access to it or fear that their children could be attacked or abducted on their way to or in the classroom.”
As the Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim wrote last year:
“The Nigerian government and the international community… have from the start done little to address the situation. This lack of participation is not surprising: they cannot even acknowledge its roots, namely, the intolerant ideology of jihad. As a result, the death toll of Christians has only risen — and will likely continue to grow exponentially — until such time that this reality is not only acknowledged but addressed.”
Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.