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‘Murdered Like Animals’: The Genocide of Christians in Nigeria Reaches New Heights
‘Murdered Like Animals’: The Genocide of Christians in Nigeria Reaches New Heights
By Raymond Ibrahim
Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.
The “pure genocide” of Christians in Nigeria, as it has been characterized by some international observers, has reached new levels, according to an April 10, 2023 report by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, also known as “Intersociety”, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Nigeria.
According to the report, since the Islamic uprising began in 2009, 52,250 Christians “have been butchered or hacked to death” in Nigeria. With each passing year, the number of slain grows. In just the first 100 days of this year, “no fewer than 1,041 defenseless Christians were hacked to death by Nigeria’s Jihadists … [from] 1st Jan to 10th April 2023.”
As Open Doors observed a year ago, in Nigeria, “every two hours, a Christian is killed for their faith.”
A variety of Islamic terrorists — including “ISWA [Islamic State in West Africa], Boko Haram, and Ansaru Jihadists” — are responsible for the carnage; roughly 15-20% of the slaughters were attributed to “Nigerian security forces, particularly the Nigerian Army.”
By far, however, the worst killers are:
“… Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen who specifically target and massacre Christians and wantonly destroy or burn down their sacred places of worship and learning; homes and farmlands.”
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.” Attacks on churches by “the Nigerian Military and the Police crack squads in Eastern Nigeria have also increased…”
As for the mass displacement of Christians,
“No fewer than 50 million Christians [the] majority of them in Northern Nigeria are facing serious threats from Jihadists for being professed Christians; out of which not less than fourteen million have been uprooted and eight million forced to flee their homes to avoid being hacked to death. About five million have been displaced and forced into IDP camps within Nigeria and refugee camps at regional and sub-regional borders.”
The Intersociety report makes clear that the jihadists are fervently trying to cleanse Nigeria of any Christian presence:
“No fewer than 800 Christian communities have [been] uprooted and seized or taken over; with many of them renamed and Islamized by the Jihadists since 2009. BH, ISWAP and Ansaru and Jihadist Fulani Bandits have forced Christians out of their ancestral homes and communities in droves … Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen have sacked and are still sacking hundreds of Christian communities…. Over 150 communities have been affected in Southern Kaduna alone and in Benue, Plateau and Taraba States, Christian homes, churches and settlements have been destroyed and replaced with Mosques and Muslim settlements.”
In 2018, the National Christian Elders Forum of Nigeria succinctly summarized the ultimate source of this onslaught:
“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….”
The Intersociety report closes by warning that, if nothing is done, “the churches or church buildings in Nigeria will become the present day Turkish church monuments in fifty years’ time or less than that.” This is a reference to how Asia Minor (today’s Turkey), once a bastion of ancient Christianity with churches everywhere, has, since its conquest by Muslim Turks, become so thoroughly Islamized, that its ancient basilicas, such as Hagia Sophia, now serve as mosques.
Although the report appeared on April 10, the massacres and atrocities have continued relentlessly since. A few examples from just the rest of April 2023, include:
April 15-26: Muslim Fulani slaughtered 18 Christians and wounded dozens during raids on various Christian communities in Plateau State.
April 16: Muslims slaughtered 33 Christians in Kaduna State. They also “maimed and burned mostly women and children.” One 5-year-old boy was beheaded.
As often happens, news outlets — including the Catholic News Agency — fail to identify the religions of either the murdered or their murderers. This video, which otherwise captures the tragic aftermath, refers to the Muslim terrorists as “bandits” and their Christian victims as “villagers.”
April 16-19: Muslim Fulani murdered 12 Christians and torched at least 86 homes. Hundreds of Christians were displaced. An area resident said:
“The victims were murdered like animals, while some inhabitants of these communities are still missing. Valuables worth millions of naira have been lost. More than 50 houses have been burnt down to ashes, and food and cash crops were burnt to ashes, too.”
Aside from the outright slaughter of Christians, many other abuses were committed all throughout April. Esther Duniya, a 14-year-old Christian girl, was abducted from school and forcibly converted to Islam. Instead of helping her father and aunt recover her, police handed the girl “to Daawa, the Islamic group in charge of converting and indoctrinating Muslims converts, who are now boasting and threatening to convert even Esther’s aunty.”
According to the Intersociety report, the government of Muhammadu Buhari, the Muslim president of Nigeria, has only “protected” the “Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen” to “the extent that the Jihadists now invade any Christian Community of their target at will and slaughter its natives and takeover their lands and properties at will.”
Intersociety is not alone in accusing Buhari. According to several Christian leaders in Nigeria (see below), the reason formerly simple Fulani herdsmen have, since Buhari became president in 2015, managed to kill nearly twice as many Christians as the “professional” terrorists (Boko Haram, ISWA, etc.), is “because President Buhari is also of the Fulani ethnic group,” to quote Nigerian bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu.
Similar accusations follow:
“The Muslim president [Buhari] has only awarded the murderers with impunity rather than justice and has staffed his government with Islamic officials, while doing essentially nothing to give the nation’s Christians, who make up half the population, due representation….. When they [Christians] tried to defend themselves [against Fulani raids] the Buhari govt. sent in the Airforce to bomb hundreds of them and protect the Fulani aggressors. Is this fair? WORLD TAKE NOTE!” — former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode.
“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism… Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.” — Rev. Musa Asake, the General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
Buhari “is openly pursuing an anti-Christian agenda that has resulted in countless murders of Christians all over the nation and destruction of vulnerable Christian communities.” — Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum.
Some Nigerian leaders go beyond Buhari and blame “the evil called Barack Obama” — in the words of Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former Minister of Culture and Tourism. On February 21,2020, the former government official wrote:
“What Obama, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton did to Nigeria by funding and supporting [current president Muhammadu] Buhari in the 2015 presidential election and helping Boko Haram in 2014/2015 was sheer wickedness and the blood of all those killed by the Buhari administration, his Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram over the last 5 years are on their hands.”
Evidence against the Nigerian government continues pouring forth. One day after the Intersociety report was published, another report appeared, saying that on Easter Sunday (Apr. 10), the Nigerian army invaded various Christian regions, where it looted and burned stores:
“The soldiers numbering more than 200 with armoured vehicles invaded the community while people were still in various churches attending Sunday Mass and services in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ….. They were shooting sporadically when they invaded, which saw people running helter skelter for their dear lives, some who went to church almost got trapped inside the church as they could not leave for fear of being killed.”
In a separate attack that began on Sunday, Apr. 30, the Muslim terrorists had two full days to slaughter Christians, for a total of 20, before local police finally arrived. “We lost hope in the Nigerian Police,” said one Christian villager.
According to yet another April headline, “Nigerian Government Looks Away as [Christian] Farms Continue to be Destroyed.”
Despite all this, the American “mainstream” remains committed to describing the jihad in Nigeria as a byproduct of “inequality” and “poverty,” to quote former US President Bill Clinton, who once explained what was “fueling all this stuff” (the “stuff” being a reference to the genocide of Christians in Nigeria).
In their quest to blame anything and everything but Islamic, specifically jihadist, ideology, even climate change has been added to the mainstream arsenal of reasons fueling the genocide of Christians. As one Nigerian nun, Sister Monica Chikwe, observed, however, “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.'” Or as the Christian Association of Nigeria once 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?”
Worst of all has been the Biden administration’s response. In 2020, 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 Biden, however, the State Department removed Nigeria — this 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.”
Incidentally and to his credit, along with placing Nigeria on the list, Trump once forthrightly asked the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, “Why are you killing Christians?”
At any rate, such is the current state of affairs: a jihad of genocidal proportions has been declared on the Christian population of Nigeria — even as American media and government present Nigeria’s problems in purely economic terms that defy reality.
For mainstream media and politicians, black lives — 52,250 now and counting—do not matter — at least not when those lives are Christians’ being slaughtered by Muslims.
Raymond Ibrahim is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.