Nigeria (Morning Star News) – When the 50-year-old church elder and leader of Kano state’s Samaila village heard gunshots shortly before midnight, he rushed out of his house to try to find security agents.
It was a natural reaction for Mai’angwa Samaila, given recent Islamist attacks in northern Nigeria. What the elder for the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) did not know was that the armed Islamic extremists, having killed two Christians in front of their Catholic church building, were coming for him next.
Not finding him at home that night (Aug. 15), they instead kidnapped his wife, Safiya Samaila, 45. They then kidnapped two other women, 20-year-old Yaha Gabriel and Hauwa Bebi, 18, both members of the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Samaila, in Tudun Wada Local Government Area (LGA).
Such kidnappings, along with threats of massacres by Islamic extremists, are continuing with the approval of some state officials in a concerted effort to eliminate Christianity, church leaders said.
Mai’angwa Samaila told Morning Star News how the killing of Yohanna Audu, 45, and Audu’s son, 18-year-old Micah Yohanna Audu, and the kidnappings were carried out. The gunmen first went to St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where Yohanna Audu, a church member whose house is beside the Catholic building, went outside.
“He went to find out who were the men on the premises of the church at that time of the night when they shot him, and he died instantly,” Samaila said. “His son, who heard the sound of the gunshot, ran out to find out what had happened since his dad had just gone to the church; he too was shot and killed.”
The armed Muslim extremists then went through the village to kidnap the three women, starting with his wife.
“As the shooting and capturing of the women was going on, some residents in our village rushed to the Catholic church and rang the church’s bell, alerting others on the attack on the village,” he said. “This forced the armed Muslim men to beat a retreat. This saved so many lives that would have perished during the attack.”
As the gunmen retreated, they shot at those who had run to the church building, Samaila said.
“The three women kidnapped were taken away,” he said. “I frantically called on heads of security agencies in our area, the police and army, but I was told that they were unable to come to our aid because their vehicles had no fuel or were in bad working condition.”
The gunmen contacted him and others the following day, demanding 10 million naira (US$27,510) for the release of the women, he said.
“We pleaded with them to release the women, but they refused,” he said. “They threatened to kill the women unless we paid the ransom. We had no other option than to tax ourselves and pay the money.”
The gunmen accepted 3 million naira (US$8,253) and released the women a week later, on Aug. 22, Samaila said. He and others recovered them in the Falgore Forest.
“We believe that Christian communities here are being persecuted because of our faith,” he said. “The government is aware about such invasions of Christian communities but has not done anything to put an end to the menace. The sad thing is that it is only Christians that are being killed or kidnapped in our area, as there was never any Muslim community attacked or a Muslim kidnapped.”
Morning Star News found that kidnappings of Christians in the Tudun Wada area have forced many Christians to flee, while many others continue to receive text messages and letters threatening massacres in their villages if no payments are made to kidnappers.
Haruna Samaila, a Christian who has received persistent phone threats from Islamic extremists, played recorded phone conversations he had with them.
“They threatened that unless I pay them 3 million naira [US$8,253], I will be killed,” he told Morning Star News. “I reported the threats to our church leaders, and they asked me to report the matter to police. When I did so, I was instead arrested by the police and detained. It took the intervention of our church leaders to get me released.”
Church leaders threatened to sue police for illegally detaining him, Samaila said.
“I will never allow them to kidnap me alive, they just have to kill me,” Samaila he said. “The government is insensitive to our plight. This is a conspiracy against us Christians in Kano. Those in authority and government know those armed Muslims carrying out these attacks against us, and that is the reason they are not concerned about our plight. It is a battle against Christianity and Christians in Kano state.”
A Christian whose adult son was killed by Islamic extremists in 2016 said he received a threatening letter from the gunmen on Nov. 21.
ECWA member Aminu Sallau, 60, told Morning Star News that a gang of nine Muslim extremists rode into Katsinawa village in the Tudun Wada LGA on motorbikes on Feb. 6, 2016 and shot his son, Usman Aminu, to death.
“Even yesterday [Nov. 21], the gunmen again sent a letter to me saying they were not yet done with me,” he said. “They stated in the letter that I should keep aside 3 million naira [US$8,253] for them, as they’ll be coming for the money at any time, and that failure on my part to give them the money would mean death for me.”
Sallau said he had no money to give them.
“I am prepared to die if that is the only price I have to pay for being a Christian,” he said.
Sallau said he narrowly escaped death in the attack that killed his son.
“I was listening to news on the radio when nine armed Muslim men stormed my house,” he said. “They came on three motorbikes and started shooting into the air. Three of them pointed their guns at my head and demanded I give them money.”
He had 80,000 naira (US$220) in the house and gave it to them.
“The gunmen were not happy that I had only a little money on me, so they tied my hands and legs and were about to take me away when one of them, who was standing guard in front of my house, rushed in to tell his colleagues that he had shot and killed my son, Usman,” he said. “On hearing this, I began to cry and shout, and in the midst of the confusion, the gunmen abandoned me and fled.”
Usman Aminu’s widow, 25-year-old ECWA member Hauwa Usman Aminu, said that her husband had returned from a business trip and had decided to check on his mother in their family home.
“He decided to visit his mom in their family home about 200 meters from our house,” she said. “It was there that the gunmen killed him. I heard sounds of gunshots shortly after my husband had gone out and knew that something was wrong.”
The Rev. Ayuba Hassan of the ECWA Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, and chairman of the Tudun Wada Local Area Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said that armed Muslims are carrying out attacks and kidnappings on Christians in order to force them to embrace Islam.
“Christians here are being persecuted for refusing to embrace Islam,” he said. “We are constantly under attack. We are not allowed to freely worship as Christians. These kidnappings are aimed at forcing us to recant or make us run away from here so that they can take over our lands and expand Islam’s frontiers.”
The Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora, vice chairman of the CAN Kano State Chapter, told Morning Star News that Muslim officials in the state government are behind attacks on Christians in the state.
“These attacks are being instigated and supported by the agents of the Muslim-controlled Kano state government to force indigenous Hausa Christians, who we are, to embrace Islam,” he said. “Our refusal to do their biddings is what has made them adopt this strategy of kidnappings and attacks in order to force our people to tow their line. This is a jihad against the church of Jesus Christ.”
Kano state officials declined to speak with Morning Star News about attacks on Christians in the Tudun Wada LGA. The state police headquarters in Kano, a spokesman confirmed the attacks but declined to speak further, saying only that the cases are being investigated.
Hassan said Christian communities and villages attacked include Samaila (Tuku), Katsinawa, Beguwa, Jarkaya, Gidan Kuzuntu and Jitta Dutse.
“In Beguwa village, on 14 July, 2016, three Christians were kidnapped,” he said. “Those kidnapped are Shamaki Ali, Bature Hassan, and Magaji Salisu. A Christian woman was also raped there. The four victims are members of the ECWA Church in Beguwa village.”
On the same day in Jarkaya village, another Christian community, three members of the Catholic church were kidnapped, identified only as Abdu, Jamilu and his son, he said.
In Gidan Kuzuntu village, also a predominantly Christian community, Baba Yaji was kidnapped at about 1:30 a.m. on July 12, 2016, and the Rev. Julius Gospel, a Roman Catholic priest, was kidnapped on June 30, 2016, in predominantly Christian Jitta Dutse, the ECWA pastor said.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
(Morning Star News) – Five Christians were killed and five others are missing after attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Plateau and Benue states in the past two weeks.
Two members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) were killed on Sunday (Nov. 12) in Plateau state’s Wereng village, Riyom Local Government Area (LGA), as they were returning to their village at about 9:30 p.m., area resident Gyang Dahoro, a COCIN elder, told Morning Star News.
Christopher Musa Chong, 28, and Bulus Dantoro, 35, were ambushed and shot death, and their corpses cut with machetes, according to Dahoro.
“The two did not return to the village on Sunday evening,” Dahoro said. “A search was organized, and their corpses were found in bushes the following morning with bullet wounds and machete cuts.”
The Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the COCIN, said in a text message to Morning Star News that the church keeps losing its members as Muslim herdsmen have continued to ravage the countryside in a series of armed attacks.
“These armed Fulani herdsmen have continued with their attacks, and the church is at the receiving end,” Datiri said. “We have lost our members to these unprovoked attacks. We are on our knees praying for God’s mercy.”
Police in Plateau state reported recovering items belonging to the herdsmen at the scene of the attack. Plateau State Command spokesman Matthias Terna confirmed in a press statement the two Christians were ambushed and killed by the herdsmen.
“The dead bodies were recovered on the scene at about 8:15 in the morning by miners who were on their way to mining camp,” Terna said. “The police recovered two sticks belonging to the gunmen, and a motorcycle belonging to the deceased persons in the scene.”
Lamenting incessant killings of Christians in the state by the herdsmen using guerrilla tactics, a member of Nigeria’s parliament, the National Assembly, demanded the government declare the herdsmen as terrorists. Istifanus Gyang said in a press statement that the time has come for herdsmen to be classified as terrorists.
“The truth is that there is a quest by the herdsmen to forcefully acquire land and territory for occupation,” Gyang said. “Under this unfortunate development, the Nigerian state and government, which have the constitutional responsibility of protecting citizens from aggression, have left the victims at the mercy of the marauding herdsmen. These attacks have to be profiled and classified as acts of insurgency and treated with the same response as Boko Haram has been handled.”
Benue State Killings
In Benue state, three Christians were killed and five others abducted by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, sources said.
One of the Christians, Saater Kwaghdom, was killed in an attack in Gaambe-tiv village, Logo LGA, on Nov. 2 in which the herdsmen took away the five Christians, Joseph Anawa of Makurdi told Morning Star News.
Another Christian, Apesuu Uhula, was killed in Isho village, Guma LGA, on Tuesday (Nov. 13), and the same day herdsmen killed another Christian, Ortse Kwaghdoo, in Azdege village, Logo LGA, according to Anawa.
All three slain Christians were members of the Universal Reformed Christian Church, in Nigeria known as the NKST (Nongo U KristuU I Ser Sha Tar), he said.
Among those kidnapped, also NKST members, were Hingir Akaa Azemgbe, Doosul Nambo, and Ladi Mhbahme, he said.
Moses Yamu, spokesman for the Benue State Command, said in a press statement that some herdsmen who carried out the attacks have been arrested.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Benue state is majority-Christian, and a report released this month describes attacks there as a “Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen invasion of Benue.”
“Nigeria: Benue State Under the Shadow of Herdsmen Terrorism,” commissioned by the World Watch Research unit of Open Doors International and Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says ethnic, socio-economic, environmental and political factors play some part in attacks, but that policy makers have diminished the underlying jihadist motives.
The ideology of the Hausa-Fulani Muslim invasion of Benue is based on the slogan, “Everything belongs to Allah. Every piece of land belongs to Allah and not you; it is not for you infidels but for Allah,” the report notes.
“Thus, with climate change, competition over limited resources and environmental threat to the ways of life of the herdsmen, the use of terror and its religious justification has been intensified, particularly in Benue,” the report states. “Herdsmen use terror tactics to conduct jihad, displacing local communities from their land to make room for their herds, to occupy those lands and to spread Islam.”
Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen are generally misperceived as people who are only in search of a better environment for caring for their sheep, the report states.
“They are mostly considered as people whose life, survival and tradition is embedded in the value attached to the herds, and the capacity they retain to protect their way of life,” it states. “Yet, historically, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that herdsmen in Africa have always played an important role in Islamic jihad. Their actions clearly demonstrate that their use of terror is premeditated; it is ideologically driven and sometimes politically motivated depending on the place, time and socio-political context.”
The report also asserts that the government is complicit in the violence by failing to stop attacks or prosecute assailants.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
(Morning Star News) – Nine Christians were buried in north-central Nigeria yesterday after Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed and killed them earlier this week, sources said.
The victims, all members of the Church of Christ In Nations (COCIN), were buried after a funeral service in Plateau state’s Riyom Local Government Area. They were killed, and three others seriously injured, on Tuesday (Nov. 7) evening at about 7:30 p.m. in Rim village as they returned from a nearby market.
In a text messsage to Morning Star News, COCIN Church Rim elder Gyang Dahoro identified those killed as Felix Ngwong, 34; Gyang Emmanuel, 29; Chuwang Bitrus, 31; Daniel Nini, 52; Dagam Danbwarang, 29; Rueben Danbwarang, 25, Sunday Danbwarang, 52; Dachollom Shom, 37; and Daniel Shom, 45.
Dahoro said the injured Dalyop Bwede, Darwang Samuel and Toma Sunday were being treated at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital in Jos.
The Rev. Dacholom Datiri, president of the COCIN, confirmed the killing of members of his church.
“We are saddened again by yet another attack on members of our church,” he said. “We have continued to be forced into mourning the death of some our members for no just cause. Whatever it is, our faith is dependent on Jesus Christ, our Savior.”
Istifanus Gyang, a member of parliament in Nigeria’s National Assembly, decried unabated attacks on Christians in Plateau state. Gyang said the attacks were carried out by “blood-thirsty killers and terror militia” whom he said were prosecuting “ruthless banditry and brutal slaughter” in order to wipe out Christian communities and occupy their lands.
“We shall therefore overcome this season, as it is written, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning,” he said.
A similar attack was carried out in the same area a few weeks ago, when a Christian woman and her son and a daughter were brutally killed by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen who have been raiding Christian communities in the central Nigerian states of Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, Taraba and Niger.
The chairman of the Riyom Council, Emmanuel Damboyi, called for the arrest of Fulani leaders in Riyom, according to Nigerian newspaper The Nation, as they had vowed to attack Berom communities due to the alleged killing of a missing Fulani boy.
The Fulani leaders made the threat at a Security Council meeting, according to Damboyi.
“I think the Fulani leaders are not ready for peace, they should be arrested and questioned for these killings,” he reportedly said.
Plateau State Police Command spokesman Terna Tyopev said in a press statement that the number of those killed was 11, with four injured.
“Eleven people who were returning from a weekly village market of Makera were shot dead at about 7:30 p.m.,” he said. “No arrests yet, but investigations are ongoing, and we shall definitely get to the roots of this.”
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.
Nigeria ranks 12th on Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.
Jesuit Father Henri Boulad, an Islamic scholar of the Egyptian Greek Melkite rite, held no punches in an interview concerning the motives of Islamic terror and Western responses to it. “Islam is an open-ended declaration of war against non-Muslims,” declared the priest, and those who carry out acts of violence and intolerance are only doing what their creed requires. The report continues:
Those who fail to recognize the real threat posed by Islam are naïve and ignorant of history, he said, and unfortunately many in the Church fall into this category. Citing a letter he wrote last August to Pope Francis, Father Boulad said that “on the pretext of openness, tolerance and Christian charity — the Catholic Church has fallen into the trap of the liberal left ideology which is destroying the West.” “Anything that does not espouse this ideology is immediately stigmatized in the name of ‘political correctness,’” he said. The priest went so far as to chastise Pope Francis himself—a fellow Jesuit—suggesting that he has fallen into this trap as well. “Many think that a certain number of your positions are aligned with this ideology and that, from complacency, you go from concessions to concessions and compromises in compromises at the expense of the truth,” the priest wrote to Francis. Christians in the West and in the East, he wrote the Pope, “are expecting something from you other than vague and harmless declarations that may obscure reality.” “It is high time to emerge from a shameful and embarrassed silence in the face of this Islamism that attacks the West and the rest of the world. A systematically conciliatory attitude is interpreted by the majority of Muslims as a sign of fear and weakness,” he said. “If Jesus said to us: Blessed are the peacemakers, he did not say to us: Blessed are the pacifists. Peace is peace at any cost, at any price. Such an attitude is a pure and simple betrayal of truth,” he said. The priest also stated his belief that the West is in an ethical and moral debacle, and its defense of Islam is a denial of truth. “By defending at all costs Islam and seeking to exonerate it from the horrors committed every day in its name, one ends up betraying the truth,” he wrote.
June’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Muslim Attacks on and Desecration of Christian Churches
Philippines: On June 21 in the village of Malagakit, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)—which earlier pledged allegiance to the Islamic State—vandalized a Catholic church. Describing the desecration as “wicked,” the chief police inspector said the “crucifix and images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ were destroyed while the sacred hosts were thrown all over the floor.” Cardinal Quevedo, who condemned the sacrilege in the strongest terms possible, challenged the leaders of the BIFF to punish its men who desecrated the chapel: “If the BIFF wants to have an image as a respecter of all religions, it must punish its members who perpetrated the odious desecration and educate all its members in strictly respecting other religions,” said the prelate. “Last month, terrorist gunmen also desecrated St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi, some 150 kilometers from Cotabato,” notes the report. “The gunmen were seen on a video [here] destroying religious images and burning the cathedral.”
Egypt: An Islamic terror cell consisting of six members, two of whom were described as “suicide bombers, was planning on bombing yet another Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, but was exposed and arrested by police before they could launch their attack. According to a statement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry, “one attacker had planned to detonate an explosive vest inside the church and the other to blow himself up when police arrived to the scene.” Several similar and successful attacks on Christian churches in Egypt in the months before had left about 100 church goers dead and hundreds more severely wounded.
Separately, authorities raided a church-owned building that was being used by the local Coptic Christian community for worship; after police removed furniture, Christian iconography and other items from the building, they chained down the doors to prevent Christians from accessing the building. Christians had for some time tried to have the building legally recognized as a church, only to face a backlash from both local Muslims and authorities. According to a local Christian, “During the early hours of Friday, June 16, we [Christians] were surprised to find the furniture, rugs, icons, pictures, and worship utensils … had been thrown outside and the building closed down with seals and chains. We took the belongings into our homes. We don’t know why the police did that.” When dozens of church leaders met with the local governor insisting that they need a place to worship, he responded by telling them that the building they were using had been found to be in a state of disrepair and need to be demolished.
Algeria: On 9 June, the state oversaw the demolition of the Catholic church located in Sidi Moussa, 15 miles from Algiers. According to Kamel Abderrahmani, an Arab journalist who covered the incident, “Algerian authorities found a very shallow argument to justify this anti-Christian act. According to the authorities concerned, the church was listed in the red category by the technical inspection services. The legitimate question that arises from this is, since the building was deemed in danger of collapse, why was it not restored and listed as part of the national heritage? The statement of the mayor was of unprecedented clarity. He had announced the construction of a mosque and a Quranic school on the same site. Such statements caused outrage, as many saw the demolition as an act of vandalism.” Kamel also noted how the Algerian government had demolished other churches on other pretexts, and concluded by calling Muslim governments and activists “hypocrites”: “If the mayor of Paris or Rome had destroyed a mosque to build a church, what would have happened? Sunni Muslims would have shouted scandal and Islamophobia! This question shows the hypocrisy of Islamists and their double standards. They defend freedom of worship in the West in order to ban it in their homeland. They fight to build mosques in someone else’s homeland whilst destroying churches and synagogues where they have power.”
Iraq: In June 2015, when Mosul was under the Islamic State’s control, the group had announced it was converting St. Ephraim Church into a “mosque of the mujahedeen.” The cross from the dome was accordingly broken off, and all Christian symbols were purged from within the house of worship. Now, months after Mosul was liberated, the occupied church was exposed as being used as a sex-slave chamber where approximately 200 Yazidi girls and women were abused by the Islamic State. A report recounts “ISIS’ depravity towards Yazidi women and girls. On the floor of the iconic house of worship lie tiny pieces of pink and yellow underwear and flower headbands belonging to the very young Yazidi sex slaves the barbaric terrorist group took captive.” The June 14 report also notes that “Last week, according to local activists, ISIS publicly caged and burned alive 19 Yazidi girls for refusing to have sex with ISIS fighters, according to local activists. Yazidi leaders last year showed Fox News photographs of the Islamic jihadists burning babies to death on a slab of sheet metal, photos that show tiny, roasted bodies side by side as flames engulfed them….The butchered Christian building and its Yazidi remnants serve as chilling reminders of the genocide experienced by the two religious minorities.”
Spain: A Muslim man stormed a Christian church during a marriage ceremony, started shouting “Allahu Akbar”—“Allah is greater”—and “tried to throw liturgical objects around him to attack the priest and churchgoers,” says a report. A number of wedding attendants managed to apprehend the 22-year-old Moroccan and hand him over to police, who reportedly charged him with “disturbing public order, crime against religious feelings and threats.” Police also investigated the church for potential explosives before permitting the wedding ceremony to resume. According to the officiating priest, the incident began when a “group of young troublemakers” started making offensive noises at the back of the church. “Suddenly, someone started to shout and charged at the altar. A lot of people, including the bride’s mother, were crying, and there were people who had already jumped out of the pews because we did not know whether this person came alone or not, or if he was armed.”
Turkey: The Erdogan government seized at least 50 Syriac churches, monasteries, and Christian cemeteries, many of which were still active, in the Mardin province, and declared them state property. According to the report, “The Syriacs have appealed to the Court for the cancellation of the decision.” The Chairman of Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation—a 1,600 year-old monastery that was still in use and also seized—said “We started to file lawsuits and in the meantime our enquiries continued.”
The Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Pakistan: A Chinese Christian couple—Lee Zing Yang, 24, and his wife Meng Lisi, 26—were abducted in Quetta and executed on the accusation that they were preaching Christ to Muslims; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for their killing and released “video footage showing the bloodied body of the Chinese man, Lee Zing Yang, taking his last breaths,” says a report. The Pakistani government cited the murdered couple’s “misuse of the terms of a business visa” as playing a major role in their deaths: “instead of engaging in any business activity they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning Urdu language … were actually engaged in preaching.”
Kenya: Armed Muslims connected to neighboring Somalia’s Islamic terrorist group, Al Shabaab, walked into an elementary school compound in Garissa and shot a Christian teacher to death. When a Muslim teacher interfered with their attempts to abduct another Christian teacher, “Al Shabaab got angry,” reported another anonymous teacher, “and told the teacher, ‘We are going to teach you a lesson for protecting the infidels,’ and immediately the two were carried away to unknown destination”—but not before the Somali militants proceeded to “beat Muslims of Somali descent at the school for housing Kenyan Christians.”
Philippines: More news and revelations concerning the jihadi uprising that began in late May in the Islamic City of Marawi appeared in June. The eight or nine Christians originally reported as being tied together and shot dead, execution style, had apparently been first ordered to recite the Islamic confession of faith, which they refused, leading to their execution. “Their bodies were reportedly thrown into the ditch, and a signboard was placed beside them reading ‘Munafik,’ which means traitor or liar,” says a report. “The assailants also asked Police Senior Inspector Freddie Solar to recite the Muslim creed, and as a non-Muslim [Christian] he too declined and was killed.” Seventeen otherswere found ritually decapitated or butchered by the Islamic State-affiliated militants. A priest and 13 parishioners from the St. Mary Cathedral were also kidnapped; the priest “appeared in a propaganda video on Tuesday (May 30) pleading for his life.”
Egypt: More eyewitness details concerning the Islamic State massacre of 29 Christian pilgrimstraveling to a Coptic monastery in the Egyptian desert in May 2017 emerged. One ten-year old boy, who witnessed the slaughter of his father, recounted how “We [he and his 14-year-old brother] saw dead people, just dumped on the ground. They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us in the car…. Every time they shot someone they would yell God is great [Allahu Akbar].” Although President Sisi had depicted the terrorists as “foreigners,” the ten-year-old said that the fifteen assailants “had Egyptian accents like us and they were all masked except for two of them … They looked like us and did not have beards.” The same report states that, a month after the massacre, the Egyptian government had failed to provide adequate security for the residents of Dayr Jarnous, a Christian village that was home to seven of those killed, “and has done nothing to help the victims’ families.”
Muslim Attacks on Christian Religious Freedom
Pakistan: A new blasphemy case was registered against yet another Christian. After Mohammad Irfan refused to pay a repair bill to Ishfaq Masih, a Christian who fixed his bicycle, the Muslim denounced the Christian of blaspheming against Islamic prophet Muhammad, leading to the Christian’s arrest. According to Masih’s cousin, “During the argument, Irfan said that he obeys only one master, Prophet Muhammad, to which Ishfaq said that he was a Christian and his faith ends at Christ. Upon hearing this, Irfan raised a clamor that Ishfaq had blasphemed against Muhammad. Soon a mob gathered at the spot, and someone called the police, who took Ishfaq into custody.” Mohammad Irfan also rallied a number of other Muslims—including Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Naveed, and Mohammad Tahir—who claimed that they “heard Ishfaq Masih say derogatory words against the Muslim prophet.” According to the Christian’s lawyer, only one of the four “witnesses” was even present during the altercation. Instead, “Irfan had gathered the other men, including the complainant Mohammad Ishfaq, and they then concocted the allegation against Ishfaq Masih and got him arrested…. The FIR [First Information Report] is quite weak, as it does not contain any specific blasphemous words that my client may have allegedly said…. It also shows that the police did not even bother to investigate the charge before registering a case against the poor man. This is the routine practice of the police in blasphemy cases, and it’s a shame that nothing is being done to stop it.”
Separately, after a Christian couple was slaughtered for preaching Christ among Muslims (see Slaughter section), a South Korean Christian was arrested for allegedly also engaging in “illegal preaching activities.” Authorities revoked his visa and ordered him to leave the Muslim nation.
Philippines: A Muslim teacher in the Muslim majority island of Mindanao forced Jen-Jen, a young Christian schoolgirl apparently of Islamic origins, to pray Islamic prayers in class or else fail the class. According to the report, “Despite being uncomfortable, Jen-Jen learned the words of the prayer to recite to the teacher. But rather than asking Jen-Jen to say the words in an oral test, the teacher later announced students would be required to go to a mosque and pray the prayer aloud.” When the girl and another Christian classmate told the teacher that praying in a mosque contradicts their faith in Christ, the Muslim teacher “ignored the request and told them to turn away from Christ,” adding: “You must comply or else you will fail in this subject. You should revert to your Islamic faith.” The girl was then “forced to complete the long walk to the mosque while wearing a traditional Muslim dress and veil covering, despite burning up with a fever.” She “got so sick, however, that she lost consciousness and blacked out. Even as she came back to, the teacher refused to excuse her from listening to the entirety of the Muslim imam’s message. Since the day at the Mosque, Jen-Jen has been pressured to conform to many other Muslim practices, such as fasting during the month of Ramadan…. [O]ther students have also teased and bullied Jen-Jen because of her faith, sometimes bombarding her as she walked to and from school and pushing her or insulting her.”
Malaysia: The Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy—the statement of purpose of which is to define and promote “Human rights from the Muslim perspective”—asserted that all forms of Christian evangelicalism should be banned. According to the CEO of the Centre, Azril Mohd Amin, “It is a fact that the groups that are spreading Christian propaganda to Malaysians, especially Muslims, will keep up their efforts as they believe that there is no effective law that can stop them.” Jo-Anna Henley Rampas, a leading member of a more progressive and inclusive party, responded by saying this move is “reflective of the erosion of religious freedom in the country” thanks to the “federal government’s failure to instil [sic] proper understanding, tolerance and harmony among citizens.”
Muslim Contempt for and Abuse of Christians
Pakistan: A Christian sanitary worker died after pious Muslim doctors who were fasting for Ramadan refused to touch the “unclean” infidel’s body. Thirty-year-old Irfan Masih had fallen unconscious along with three other sanitary staff while cleaning a manhole on June 1. He was rushed to a governmental hospital where the doctors refused to treat him; he died hours later. “The doctors refused to treat him because they were fasting and said my son was napaak [unclean],” said the mother of the deceased. A few weeks later, a court, responding to complaints from hospital officials accusing the family and friends of Irfan of terrorizing the hospital, ordered police to register a complaint against them. “The hospital has levied a false charge against us in order to save themselves,” explained a cousin of the deceased, who also works in sanitation. “The doctors were responsible for Irfan’s death, because he would have been alive today had they not refused to treat him immediately. Our outburst against the doctors was natural, but we did not damage or steal anything from the hospital. It is a lie, and even the police know it.” A senior police official admitted that “we believe that the hospital is making frivolous accusation against these people….. The hospital is ostensibly trying to pressure the family to withdraw their case.”
Egypt: Suzan Ashraf Rawy, a 22-year-old Christian woman, was reportedly kidnapped on the morning of June 5 while walking to the Coptic Orthodox church she worked at. “When she did not return home that evening, her mother called the church,” an area Christian leader explained. “That is when she discovered Suzan did not arrive at the church in the morning. It is expected that she has been abducted.” She is the third Christian woman in the area of Al Khosous, a predominantly Christian town on the outskirts of Cairo, to disappear since May 30, when a Copt accidentally shot and killed a Muslim bystander during a quarrel with someone else. “Since then, the Muslims started to wage revenge attacks on the Christian community living there, especially the women,” the Christian leader said. According to the report, “Two other young Coptic Christian women disappeared without a trace after the May 30 incident. The families of the women suspected to have been kidnapped have received no communication from alleged kidnappers, the sources said. Area Muslims have long disfigured Christian women for not wearing veils by throwing acid on them, but there has been a surge in such attacks in the past few weeks, sources said…. Fear has seized Coptic Christians in the area, with women afraid to leave their homes. One of the church women’s meetings, which Rawy attended, has been suspended until further notice out of fear for the safety of the participants.”
Bangladesh: Three Muslim men sexually assaulted a 20-year-old Catholic girl in the village of Madarpur on June 18. Her loud cries drew the attention of village locals who came to her rescue, prompting the rapists to flee. After her parents filed a complaint, they began to receive threatening messages to withdraw it or else. “Last year her family was involved in a land dispute,” adds the report. “The violence – a premeditated attack – was also witnessed by the police, deployed by the Muslims who wanted to expropriate the land. The young woman, along with her parents, was forced to leave the house and live in a slum.”
Pakistan: The home of a journalist who extensively covers the plight of religious minorities in the Muslim nation was vandalized. When Rana Tanveer, chief reporter of The Express Tribune, went to the police, they failed to register a formal complaint. Days later, an unidentified vehicle intentionally ran over Tanveer, while he was riding his motorcycle in Lahore on Friday, June 9. According to the report: “Tanveer underwent surgery for a fracture in his pelvic bone on Saturday. His recovery may take months and he has expressed fears for his safety as well as that of his family…. Tanveer says that his work on exposing the poor treatment meted out to the country’s religious minorities like the Ahmadis and the Christians has made him a target of extremists.”
Sudan: A court in El Gedaref fined a number of Christians for selling food and tea during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting: “This is a clear discrimination against Christians and contrary to the slogans of religious coexistence launched by the Sudan Government for the international community,” contended one defense layer. About a dozen people were each fined $2,000 Sudanese dollars ($298 USD).
Iraq: “[T]roubling issues related to discrimination and even violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities” are widespread in Kurdish-ruled territories, one report found, adding, “Christian citizens of the KRI [Kurdish Region of Iraq] have issued complaints and held protests against Kurdish residents for attacking and seizing their land and villages in the provinces of Dohuk and Erbil…. Some Assyrian Christians accuse Kurdish government and party officials of taking lands for personal use or financial gain. These Christians believe they are specifically targeted as part of a policy to Kurdify historically Christian areas…. Minorities continue to fear growing extremism in the majority population, which they believe could threaten them in the long term.” Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims.
Nigeria: A presidential order replaced Christian education with Islamic Studies in Secondary Schools. While the subject, “Christian Religious Knowledge” no longer exists, Islamic, Arab, and French studies have been introduced in the new curriculum. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which protested the new changes in front of the presidential palace, currently filled by a Muslim, described the change as “a time-bomb, obnoxious, divisive and ungodly…. To us in CAN, its introduction is an ill-wind that blows nobody any good for so many reasons.” According to the report, “The end result [of these changes] is that a Christian student will be left with no option than to settle for Islamic Arabic Studies since French teachers are more or less non-existent in secondary schools,” all of which “will deprive pupils of moral trainings which CRK [Christian Religious Knowledge] offers.” The Christian Association of Nigeria further denounced this move “to force Islamic studies down the throats of non-adherents of the religion,” as being an “agenda deliberately crafted towards Islamization.”
Separately, a Christian priest and his companions who were abducted by Islamic militants in April told of their experiences in June, when they were released. Fr. Sam Okwuidegbe identified his “kidnappers as Fulani herdsmen, an Islamic radical group that has killed thousands of people in Nigeria, including many Christians, in the past couple of decades” notes the report. That he was unable to recall any phone numbers for the Islamic terrorists to call to negotiate a ransom for his release “triggered a series of beatings,” says Fr. Sam; “they huddled me up, hands and feet tied to the back with a rope like a goat before a kill. They removed my cassock, then my shirt, threw me into the dirt on the ground, and began to beat me with the back of their guns, they’d kick me hard on my sides, slap across my face, push and pull me hard across the ground … one of them said ‘We are going to burn you alive!’” Another man in captivity did manage to recall a phone number, a ransom was set, and the men were eventually released.
Due to the ongoing bleeding of Nigeria’s Christian population—increasingly at the hands of Muslim Fulani herdsmen and not just the Islamic terror group, Boko Haram—a number of leading Nigerian churches issued a statement calling on the government “not to abdicate its responsibility of protecting all Nigerian citizens.” According to the communique: “We are worried that the murderous activities of Fulani herdsmen have continued unabated and unchecked. The recurring and orchestrated killings of Christians in Southern Kaduna, mass killings in parts of Benue State and others across the country have increased suspicion that the so-called herdsmen are an extension of terrorist groups carrying out an evil agenda of ethnic and religious cleansing. Characteristically, these mindless attacks are often unprovoked.” Earlier in January, Bishop Diamond Emuobor, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, said that, because Christians are facing increasing dangers at the hands of extremists, so “Christians should defend themselves and he who has no sword, should sell his coat and buy one to defend himself. We are all human beings, nobody should catch you like a snail and slaughter because you believe in Jesus Christ.”
About this Series
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world has become endemic. Accordingly, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
1) To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, persecution of Christians.
2) To show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Islamic Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism laws that criminalize and sometimes punish with death those who “offend” Islam; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed dhimmis, or third-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to Indonesia in the East—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
(World Watch Monitor) A law imposing a ban on cattle grazing has come into force today (2 November) in Nigeria’s central state of Benue.
The ban follows years of deadly clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsman and local farmers in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
According to the BBC, the new law requires everyone to keep their livestock within ranches. Those breaking the law face the possibility of a five-year jail sentence.
The law is aimed at restoring peace, say officials, but opponents have cast doubts over its efficiency. The Fulani herdsman say it unfairly targets their nomadic way of life.
The Middle Belt of the country, which straddles the divide between the largely Muslim north and the majority-Christian south, has been the scene of ongoing violence between settled farmers, who are mostly Christian, and mainly Muslim Hausa-Fulani herdsmen.
Many experts on Nigeria now believe that the violence across the Middle Belt, which World Watch Monitor has reported on at length, has been responsible for more deaths than Boko Haram.
Last September, a report by International Crisis Group also pointed out the failure of Nigerian government to counteract violence in the Middle Belt.
The report pointed out the persistence of impunity as one of the root causes of the continuing violence.
“Police occasionally arrest and prosecute both herders and vigilantes bearing firearms, but relatively few perpetrators of violence face justice. Impunity has encouraged actors to take matters into their own hands,” it said.
The report backed up the views of analysts including Professor Yusufu Turaki, Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion, Church and Society at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary in Nigeria, who spoke to World Watch Monitor recently.
“They [the authorities] will start something as if they are serious about it, but after a few weeks the thing sinks and nothing happens again,” he said. “We have seen a lot of that. This for me has become the culture: the culture of making ripples, making a noise and fooling the people into thinking that you are doing something, but actually not meaning it.”
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Christian woman and her two children were killed in north-central Nigeria last week, three days after a kidnapped priest was slain by his abductors in the southwestern part of the country, sources said.
Armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Tuesday (Oct. 24) ambushed and shot to death Rebecca Daniel Choji, her 16-year-old daughter Suzanna Daniel Choji, and her 29-year-old son Joel Choji, in Jol village, Riyom Local Government Area (LGA) in Plateau state, as the family members were on their way to a health facility in Vwak village, sources said.
Suzanna and Joel Choji died immediately, while their mother succumbed to her gunshot wounds two days later at Plateau State Specialist Hospital in Jos, sources said.
Members of the Church of Christ In Nations (COCIN) in Jol village, the three victims were being driven to a hospital by a relative, Dachung Yakubu, as Choji’s two children were ill. The herdsmen attacked at about 7 p.m. and also wounded Yakubu, who at this writing was in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit at Plateau State Specialist Hospital, sources said.
The attack was the latest by herdsmen on Christian communities in Plateau state’s Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, and Bassa LGAs.
“We have been under attack constantly from these Fulani herdsmen because we are Christians,” Gyang Dahoro, 55, an area COCIN congregation elder, told Morning Star News by text message. “Our villages have been ravaged, and our houses and churches destroyed, and in most cases these herdsmen have taken over the villages where Christians have been displaced.”
He added that the woman and her two children were some of the “Christians killed in recent times as the herdsmen in collaboration with Boko Haram continue to invade our communities.”
The attack came a week after similar assaults were carried out in villages around Miango town, in Bassa LGA.
“We are saddened by yet another attack on our defenseless members in Jol who were on their way to visit a health care center,” Dachalom Datiri, COCIN president, told Morning Star News by phone. “All we can do is to keep praying for an end to these attacks and hope that Nigerian government can halt these senseless killings.”
Emmanuel Jugul, chairman of the Riyom Government Council Management Committee, confirmed the killing of the Christian woman and her two children and the wounding of the fourth relative, as did Tyopev Terna, police spokesman for the Plateau State Command.
“The four persons were going to a clinic when they were attacked by gunmen,” Terna told Morning Star News.
In southwest Nigeria, a priest with the African Church was killed after being kidnapped by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
The Rev. David Ayeola, 26, was kidnapped at gunpoint in an ambush on Oct. 17 and was shot to death on Oct. 21 after failed rescue efforts by police, sources said.
The priest was a chaplain at the headquarters of the African Church in Akure, Ondo state. A church bishop, his wife and driver escaped capture.
He was kidnapped while traveling to a burial for an in-law of the bishop in Ayegbaju as they drove from Imojo Ekiti, the bishop said in a press statement texted to Morning Star News.
The Rev. Samuel Ojo, bishop of the African Church, a denomination in Nigeria, said that somewhere between Imojo and Oye Ekiti, masked gunmen emerged from the bush, blocked the road and started shooting.
“Our driver attempted to turn back, but he discovered that members of the gang were also coming from the back,” Ojo said. “He suddenly drove into the forest. Myself, my wife, the priest and the driver ran into the bush. I told them to run for their lives, and we fled in different directions. I crawled in the forest like a snake for hours.”
After capturing Ayeola, the armed gunmen phoned church headquarters and demanded 100 million naira (US$275,368) for his release, Ojo said.
“The kidnappers started calling me from the priest’s phone number,” he said. “From their accents, they sounded like Fulani. They were threatening to kill him if we didn’t pay the money. When I offered them 500,000 naira (US$1,375), they insulted me and the church.”
Villagers saw the priest with three armed gunmen at a farm and reported it to police late the night of Oct. 21, he said, and officers from three divisions in Ekiti and Ondo states went into the forest and surrounded the property.
Bishop Ojo said the Fulani gunmen forced police back, and then shot Ayeola as they fled, leaving him to die in the forest.
Adeyemi Ademola, a police spokesman for the Ekiti State Command, confirmed the murder in a statement sent to Morning Star News.
“When the kidnappers noticed that the police and the hunters were coming, they shot the priest and escaped,” Ademola said. “We went after them for a while, but the team had to turn back when it was getting dark. This was to avoid endangering the lives of members of the team in a terrain that the kidnappers may be more familiar with. We took the priest to a general hospital, but sadly, we lost him.”
Ojo said Ayeola, a graduate of the African Church Theological Seminary in Lagos, was ordained two years ago.
“I ordained him in 2015. He was the best at the college of theology in his set,” he said. “He was an excellent and vibrant preacher of the gospel. We are all saddened by his death. We want the police to get the suspects and bring them to book. This is a great loss to the church.”
(World Watch Monitor) A sense of normality has returned to the city of Jos, in Nigeria’s central Plateau State, after an eruption of inter-religious violence claimed at least three lives on 14 September.
One of them was Jerry Binkur, a final-year student at the University of Jos, who was a member of COCIN Church.
Several others were injured in attacks by a mob. One of them died from his wounds in the hospital, but his name is yet to be confirmed.
Professor Timothy O. Oyetunde, Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies, was another of those attacked, at about 6.30pm.
According to his statement, the Christian professor was about to leave the university, when suddenly some Muslim youths armed with machetes, daggers, and other weapons surrounded his car. They first shattered the windscreen using large stones. Someone in the passenger seat, not yet identified, was stabbed in the chest, while Professor Ema Ema, sitting directly behind Professor Oyetunde, was stabbed in the head. Professor Oyetunde escaped with minor injuries, narrowly avoiding a machete which instead shattered the window glass. His car was later set ablaze.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been killed in ethnic and religious clashes in Plateau in recent years.
This week a dusk-to-dawn curfew, imposed by the governor last Thursday (14 September), has been relaxed to 10pm to 6am. Still, heavily armed soldiers and police remain on patrol at flashpoints such as Terminus Roundabout (in the city centre), Kataka Market (which acts as a boundary between Muslim and Christian communities), Chobe Junction (a settlement dominated by Christians from the ethnic Igbo people) and Bauchi Road (dominated by Hausa Muslims).
On Sunday (17 September) security was beefed up in churches for fear of attacks. At Living Faith Church, on Recard Road, heavily armed soldiers, police and members of the Nigeria Civil Defence were deployed to prevent violence.
At Faithway Bible Church in the neighbouring city of Bukuru, the congregation prayed for total restoration of peace in Plateau State and across Nigeria. Pastor Theophilus Akaniro, who led the prayers, also prayed for Nigeria’s upcoming Independence Day on 1 October.
But in general there was low turnout in local churches last Sunday, perhaps for fear of attacks.
This week, across the city, shops have re-opened, life has resumed, and traffic has returned to the busy Ahmadu Bello Way. Shop owners have expressed relief that normality has been restored.
What triggered the violence?
Thursday’s violence in Jos was triggered by the activism of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a predominantly Igbo group in southeast Nigeria, responsible for killing members of the Muslim Hausa community in the south in pursuit of its agenda.
The ‘Biafran War’ (1967-70) was fought to stop the south-east of Nigeria breaking away, soon after Nigeria’s independence from the British. Now it seems that this cause has re-ignited in the past few years.
IPOB militants and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, think the Igbos have been marginalised by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. They have repeatedly requested to break away from Nigeria, which the federal government has vehemently resisted.
Last week, the federal government deployed the Nigerian Army (Operation Python Dance) to counter IPOB protests, which had turned violent.
This deployment snowballed into violent confrontation between IPOB militants and the Army, leading to the death of many IPOB members.
This further led to IPOB members attacking the Hausa/Fulani Muslims living in the south-east of Nigeria (Port Harcourt and Umuahia States, in particular) because the IPOB consider Hausa Muslims to be President Buhari’s kinsmen.
Some Hausa Muslims were killed in this violence. This has then led to reprisal attacks across northern states, and in Plateau. (One youth movement, Arewa Youth, in northern Nigeria had in June reiterated its wish for Igbos to be expelled from northern states, giving a three-month deadline, 1 October.)
Why Plateau State matters
Nigeria, the most populous African country, is divided along ethnic and religious lines. The central state of Plateau is located on the fault line between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south. Some analysts think the Jos attack has the potential to upset the relative calm that has recently prevailed in Plateau, with potential consequences reaching far beyond.
Jos is seen almost as a miniature Nigeria, comprising almost all ethnic groups, but actually dominated by three predominantly Christian tribes (with the headquarters of many Nigerian Churches in Jos); a disruption to the peace in Jos could in turn affect the entire nation, and especially the Christian community in Nigeria.
Before the latest Jos violence, northern youths had previously issued other notices, demanding that all Igbos be kicked out of the northern states. They said that since the Igbos want their own country, they would force them to leave the north.
Some even suspect that that the reprisal attack in Jos against the Igbos was actually orchestrated from the far north because Nigerians would normally expect such attacks to take place in the predominantly Muslim northern cities like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara, but not in Jos.
It also shows that the recent peace in Plateau is still a very fragile one, and one that could collapse with a little provocation. The massacre of about 20 Christians by Fulani herdsmen, on 7 September, is an illustration.
The violence was unanimously condemned by Christian and Muslim leaders.
“The peace of the State is the peace of the Church and society,” wrote Rev Soja Bewarang, chairman of the Plateau chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement. “Let us all wise up and work collectively to frustrate the designs of criminals in our midst. Information on social media must be verified with security agencies and nobody should take the law into their hands; enough of this madness.”
CAN also called on Igbos in Plateau to remain calm, assuring them that nobody had the right to ask them to leave the state – as some Muslim youths had suggested.
Meanwhile, the Plateau State chapter of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) appealed to members of the Muslim community and the general public to shun acts capable of disrupting the hard-earned peace in the state.
“JNI finds it necessary and of utmost importance to remind us that we in Plateau State had just in the last few years emerged from a decade-long ethno-religious conflict, which left us with unbearable socio-economic and political consequences,” read a statement signed by Sani Mudi, Director of Publicity of the JNI in Plateau.
It continued: “The sad saga of disruption of peace and lawlessness in some parts of the country is not worth our response, except in the exhibition of [a] mature and civil way, trusting that appropriate authorities are capable of responding as the situation warrants. We should therefore cherish our peaceful co-existence and do all within our power to sustain it, regardless of the provocation, as peace is priceless.”
The governor of Plateau, Simon Lalong, last Thursday met with community and religious leaders, and reaffirmed his determination to ensure security for all.
“I want to tell all citizens that their security and welfare as the primary concern of government is assured by the Rescue Administration. I am therefore enjoining all citizens to go about their business with the assurance that their safety is guaranteed,” he said.
(World Watch Monitor) A group representing senior Christians in Nigeria has accused the government of trying to Islamise the country.
In a statement on 6 September, ‘Jihad in Nigeria: burying the head in sand’, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) said jihad threatened the unity of the country.
NCEF is composed of a number of retired, high-ranking leaders from civil and military occupations, including former Defence Minister Theophilus Danjuma.
The group said its warning about the threat of jihad, in a previous release in July, had been ignored, and that Nigeria is moving “dangerously close to a national ‘red line’, where Truth is criminalised as ‘hate speech’”
“Under the present administration, every key and sensitive position in National Security is held by Muslims from the north, in outright violation of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution,” it said.
“There is a deliberate attempt to emasculate Christians, southerners and other non-Muslim population[s] of Nigeria verifiably by intimidation and force,” it added, calling it a “stealth jihad”.
The group also denounced the government’s failure to curb the violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
“Fulani herdsmen operate with impunity in mostly Christian areas, killing, maiming, raping, and destroying without any arrest, without any prosecution,” NCEF said.
“If this is not complicity of the Muslim-dominated security services, are we then to conclude that the Nigerian security units are so incompetent that they cannot successfully engage insurgents after the Nigerian Army successfully prosecuted a Civil War?”
Many experts on Nigeria now believe that violence across the Middle Belt, which World Watch Monitor has reported on at length, has been responsible for more deaths than Boko Haram.
According to Professor Yusufu Turaki, Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion, Church and Society at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary, there is a “vibrant and active revivalist Islamism” in northern Nigeria, which he blamed for the radicalisation of Boko Haram members and many Fulani herdsmen.
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