Persecution of Christians in Nigeria Might Increase in 2022
The word “metastasized” is a strong word. This term has to do with the spreading of something deadly to new areas. This is a term that Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a religious rights organization based in the United Kingdom, uses to describe the situation in Nigeria. CSW members include lawyers, church leaders, and activists who do research and pressure governments. They hope governments will protect the rights of individuals to worship according to their conscience without interference or intimidation.
2020 was a terrible year for religious persecution in Nigeria.
Persecution of Christians is strong in Nigeria’s Kaduna and Kano states, but it can easily spread to the rest of northern Nigeria and beyond. A January 2021 report by Open Doors, which monitors persecution issues country by country, said that the number of Nigerian Christians murdered in 2020 rose 60 percent from the year before. It went on to say that 2,200 of 4,761 Christians killed worldwide were slain in Nigeria, usually by Muslim jihadists. In late 2020 the U.S. State Department put Nigeria at Tier 1 of the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list. That means they are at the same level as North Korea and Saudi Arabia. They select CPCs based on their violation of religious freedom through torture, detainment without charges, and disappearances.
Such designation came largely because of the ongoing work of Islamic terrorists from Boko Haram, which has had a regular track record of killings, abductions, and forced marriages.
It is also very common for Muslim Fulani herders to perform violent acts to drive out settled farmers, many of whom are Christians. As it stands, the wickedness has already metastasized to other states of Nigeria that enforce Islam’s Sharia Law. Nigerian President Buhari has often denied or refused to deal with religious rights violations in his nation. Crimes against Christians have multiplied under his watch.
State governments also offer no protection. Sometimes they help the perpetrators. In October the Kaduna State Government destroyed 263 buildings in a Christian community called Gracelands, despite a court ruling forbidding this act of state terrorism. They did this under cover of night. Neither the state nor federal government offered a public comment on this atrocity to CSM.
Instead of increasing pressure on Nigeria to protect its citizens, the U.S. State Department has recently removed that country from the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list. CSW is concerned that such an action will embolden those guilty of religious and human rights violations to increase the number of crimes. We can easily see crimes against Christians increase in 2022.
- CSW, CSW concerned at critical omissions from State Department’s Countries of Particular Concern list. November 18, 2021
- Voice of America, Christian Group Names Nigeria Hot Spot for Persecution. January 21, 2021
- Newsweek, The West Cannot Ignore Violence Against Nigerian Christians | Opinion. July 23, 2021
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