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Nigeria Terrorism

‘A Gory Christmas’: Christians Slaughtered in the Nigerian Genocide

‘A Gory Christmas’: Christians Slaughtered in the Nigerian Genocide
By Raymond Ibrahim

Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.

Today, January 7, 2024, marks the Eastern Orthodox Christmas, according to the Julian calendar. It seems an appropriate time to recall that less than two weeks ago, on December 25, 2023, the more familiar Roman Catholic and Protestant Christmas was being celebrated in the West. This winter, however, festivities were cancelled. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was a ghost town . “This year,” said Brother John Vinh a Franciscan monk, “without the Christmas tree and without lights, there’s just darkness.” Alas, for many other Christians, Christmas was also just darkness.

While around much of the world, the holiday was being celebrated with peace and joy, in Nigeria, starting on Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day, Muslims massacred nearly 200 Christians.

During this holy time, “well-armed” Muslim Fulani tribesmen hacked, stabbed, riddled with bullets, and burned alive their Christian victims, many of whom were in the process of celebrating Christmas.

According to one report:

“At least 25 communities across three Local Government Areas [in Plateau State] were targeted. Survivors recounted militia men attacking in large numbers, indiscriminately killing and destroying homes, vehicles, farmlands and other properties. About 37 individuals, primarily women, children and the disabled, were burned to death in their homes. Eight churches and parsonages were also destroyed…”

The number of slain is expected to rise. “Yes, my village was attacked on Christmas Eve, and other villages close to my community,” confirmed Timothy, from there, during an interview.

“More dead bodies were found in the bush today… Many houses were burnt including my church. I can’t say how many people were killed but we found more dead bodies today and we are looking for missing ones.”

More than 300 Christians were also seriously wounded, 29,350 people displaced, and countless homes and churches — including 221 homes in just one village — torched during the jihadist raids.

Four family members of another villager, Naomi, were murdered and she was displaced. “My house was burned… I mourned on Christmas day,” she said.

Several Christian leaders were also slaughtered, including a pastor, his wife and their five children, related Dawzino Mallau, another villager.

“These terrorists who attacked these Christian communities were in the hundreds, and they carried out the attacks as the hapless Christians were preparing for Christmas….”

Underscoring the scale of the attack, photographs show victims being buried in mass graves.

“This indeed has been a gory Christmas for us,” Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang said in a statement that characterized the attacks as “well-coordinated” and carried out with “heavy weapons.”

Another report said of the massacre:

“Most of the Christians killed were women, children and the elderly unable to escape…. Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in the Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam… Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.”

Due to its “sensationalist” nature — nearly 200 Christians murdered, and during Christmas-time no less — this attack received a fair bit of reporting on larger “alt-right” and conservative news sites. In reality, however, no aspect of these attacks — neither the number of Christians massacred, nor the time of year — is “new” or unique to Nigeria.

As elsewhere, Islamic terrorists in Nigeria target Christians regularly, especially during their holy seasons. Thirteen years ago, during Christmas of 2011, Gatestone Institute reported:

“Several churches in northern Nigeria were bombed December 25 [2011], in what has been described as ‘Nigeria’s blackest Christmas ever.’ The attacks, perpetrated by the Muslim militant group Boko Haram, killed at least 39 people, ‘the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church [in Madalla near the capital of Abuja] after celebrating Christmas Mass as blood pooled in dust from a massive explosion.’ Charred bodies and dismembered limbs lay scattered around the destroyed church.”

Sadly, in Nigeria, there have been no shortage of attacks on Christians during Christmas and other holy days. Here are a few examples from before and after 2011’s supposedly “blackest Christmas ever”:

– Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2010: Muslims torched and bombed several churches, leaving at least 38 Christians dead and 74 in critical condition.

– Easter Sunday, Apr. 8, 2012: During communion, at least 50 Christians were blown to pieces after explosives went off near the Assemblies of God’s Church during Easter Sunday services in a predominantly Muslim region.

– Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2012: In two separate attacks, Islamic gunmen shot and killed 12 Christian worshippers who had gathered for Christmas Eve church services, including a pastor.

– Easter week, 2013: Muslim herdsmen launched a series of raids, murdering at least 80 Christians—mostly children and the elderly; additionally, over 200 Christian homes were destroyed, eight churches burned, and 4,500 Christians displaced.

– Easter Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014: A packed church was set on fire, leaving over 150 dead.

– Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2015: The Islamic group Boko Haram slaughtered 16 Christians, including children.

– Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022: Terrorists stormed a Catholic church and massacred at least 50 Christians. Videos, according to one report, “showed church worshippers lying in pools of blood while people around them wailed.”

The above is just a minuscule sampling of attacks on Christians that were intentionally timed to coincide with their holy days. In reality, the slaughter of Christians in Nigeria is a daily affair. As Open Doors observed in 2022 about Nigeria: “every two hours, a Christian is killed for their faith.”

Muslims are now openly committing genocide against Christians in Nigeria, as confirmed by international observers. According to one report, between just 2009 and April 10, 2023, 52,250 Christians “have been butchered or hacked to death” in Nigeria. Since then, that number has continued to grow — not only due to the 200 slain on Christmas, but the many others who have been slaughtered since April 10, 2023, as documented in the monthly “Persecution of Christians” reports. Also since 2009, 18,000 churches and 2,200 Christian schools were attacked, many “destroyed in part or in whole including being razed or burned down.”

In the meantime, the “mainstream media” and politicians have done everything possible to conceal this genocide. They present it as only territorial clashes between herdsmen and farmers.

In its report on last Christmas’s slaughter of nearly 200 Christians, for instance, the Associated Press (AP) failed to mention that the massacres occurred during Christmas, just as it failed to mention the identities of the attackers (Muslims) and their victims (Christians). Rather, it presented the conflict, as many commentators increasingly do, as a supposedly regrettable byproduct of climate change – which is, according to them, is forcing herdsmen (Muslims) to encroach on the lands of farmers (Christians).

Similarly, in an the AP report on the 2022 Pentecost Sunday church bombing that left 50 Christian worshippers dead, the words “Muslim,” “Islam,” or even “Islamist” never appear. Rather, readers were told, “It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on the church.” To maintain this ambiguity, the AP also failed to point out that Islamic terrorists have routinely stormed churches and slaughtered thousands of Christians “for sport” over the years in Nigeria — a fact that just might have offered a hint as to “who was behind the attack.”

Dissembling over what is happening to Nigeria’s Christians is, unfortunately, an old “mainstream media” tactic, as reported in 2011, in the article, “Nigeria’s Christmas Present – Blowing Up Christians: The New York Times Screws It Up Again”.

One only need consider the words of Obama’s then-Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, speaking after Muslim terrorists slaughtered 50 Christian church worshippers on Easter Sunday, 2012:

“I want to take this opportunity to stress one key point and that is that religion is not driving extremist violence [in Nigeria].” Instead, “inequality” and “poverty”— to quote former US President William J. Clinton — are “what’s fueling all this stuff” (“this stuff” being the massacre of Christians at the hands of Muslims).

As a Nigerian nun, Sister Monica Chikwe, nevertheless observed:

“It’s tough to tell Nigerian Christians this isn’t a religious conflict since what they see are Fulani fighters clad entirely in black, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and screaming ‘Death to Christians.'”

The Christian Association of Nigeria rhetorically asked:

“How can it be a [secular or economic] clash when one group [Muslims] is persistently attacking, killing, maiming, destroying, and the other group [Christians] is persistently being killed, maimed and their places of worship destroyed?”

In 2018, the National Christian Elders Forum of Nigeria succinctly summarized the ultimate source behind the genocide of Christians in Nigeria:

“JIHAD has been launched in Nigeria by the Islamists of northern Nigeria led by the Fulani ethnic group. This Jihad is based on the Doctrine of Hate taught in Mosques and Islamic Madrasas in northern Nigeria as well as the supremacist ideology of the Fulani. Using both conventional (violent) Jihad, and stealth (civilization) Jihad, the Islamists of northern Nigeria seem determined to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate and replace Liberal Democracy with Sharia as the National Ideology. … We want a Nigeria, where citizens are treated equally before the law at all levels…”

In the midst of the jihadist carnage of Christians has been the Biden administration’s bizarre response. In 2020, President Donald J. Trump placed Nigeria on the State Department’s List of Countries of Particular Concern — that is, nations which engage in, or tolerate violations of, religious freedom. Under President Joseph R. Biden, however, the State Department removed Nigeria — the nation where one Christian is butchered every two hours — from the list.

Many observers responded by slamming the Biden State Department for this inexplicable move. As Sean Nelson, Legal Counsel for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International, noted:

“Outcry over the State Department’s removal of Country of Particular Concern status for Nigeria’s religious freedom violations is entirely warranted. No explanations have been given that could justify this decision. If anything, the situation in Nigeria has grown worse over the last year. Thousands of Christians, as well as Muslims who oppose the goals of terrorist and militia groups, are targeted, killed, and kidnapped, and the government is simply unwilling to stop these atrocities…Removing Country of Particular Concern status for Nigeria will only embolden the increasingly authoritarian government there.”

To his credit, then President Trump, along with placing Nigeria on the list, once asked the then Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, with characteristic bluntness: “Why are you killing Christians?”

Such is the current state of affairs in Nigeria, even on this day of Orthodox Christmas, when a jihad of genocidal proportions has, for 15 years, been waged on the Nigerian Christian population of — even as the American media and government present Nigeria’s problems in purely economic terms that defy reality.

Put differently, for the mainstream media and many politicians, black lives — well over 50,000 and counting — apparently do not matter. At least not when those lives are Christian and being slaughtered by Muslims.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West, Sword and Scimitar, Crucified Again, and The Al Qaeda Reader, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Original Article

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