Finding Truth Amid the Bloodshed of Nigeria’s Christian Genocide

Church in Nigeria in this undated photo.
(PHOTO: OPEN DOORS PARTNERS)

Thousands of Christians have been killed in the past year alone. Families have lost their loved ones, their churches, their houses, and everything they have in an instant.

Some are calling it an all-out genocide in the most Christian country in the world’s most Christian continent in terms of numbers.

The truth of what is happening in the Fulani conflict in Nigeria remains muddled by politics, misreporting, and misinformation. But one group is saying that there is deliberate deception taking place, one that seeks to portray the Fulani attackers simply as “herdsmen,” and the conflict as strictly a clash between farmers and cattle herders.

The truth, according to the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, a nonprofit, nongovernment organization headquartered in Nigeria, is that radical Islamists have taken over the Fulani, spreading jihad by deliberately slaughtering Christians and burning their churches.

At the same time, they are said to be using the narrative of agriculture as a cover to claim that the clashes are of a nonreligious nature.

The Nigerian government, and much of reporting in Western media, takes that line of thinking, and refuses to characterize the ongoing slaughter by the Islamic Fulani against the largely Christian farmers as a religious war.

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman of Intersociety, told The Christian Post in a series of phone and email interviews on Aug. 2 that there is strong evidence, when analyzing the patterns and trends, to suggest that the conflict is far from just about cattle grazing, but is a deliberate jihad aimed at rooting out Christianity.

Still, there are a number of different actors in the crisis on Africa’s most populous nation, which is roughly divided in half between its Muslim and Christian inhabitants.

Organizations representing Fulani herdsmen are distancing themselves from the radicals carrying out violence in their name. Several reports have documented that the attackers are using AK-47 rifles and sophisticated weapons to kill as many people as possible, suggesting they are being funded and supplied by others.

So who precisely is killing thousands of Christians, converting churches to mosques, and displacing multitudes of families, leaving them with nothing?

Families Losing Everything

Everything they have, they have lost in a moment. Their houses, churches, communities, any stability they might have known, even their loved ones and relatives. And then they are forced to run for their lives.

That is the reality for so many Christian families, according to Open Doors USA, a leading persecution watchdog group that has been assisting victims of Fulani violence in Nigeria.

Chris Summers, senior writer at the relief group, told CP in an August 3 phone interview that such stories are happening all over rural towns in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

“Just the idea of being trapped with your family in some of these villages and knowing that your village is about to get raided, and essentially having to run, leave everything behind, and knowing that you are about to become an internally displaced person,” he said of the circumstances that really stand out amid the suffering.

“You’re not sure what you’re going to do, because your entire village is forced to leave, so any kind of community you had is stripped away. Your church is gone, which for many of these Christians in the Middle Belt, their church is the center of their community and the center of their social structure. So the church is gone, it is burned, and they may not ever see it again.”

Summers continued:

“From one moment living in a town, and in the next moment you have nothing. And not only do you have nothing, but all of your friends and neighbors that have not been killed, they also have nothing.”

Open Doors said that it delivered aid to those in need following large raids near Jos in June, where over 3,000 Christians were displaced, and over 200 were slaughtered.

A worker with the watchdog group said that the survivors were left in a “pathetic situation.”

“Life has become a living hell for them. They have lost loved ones, houses, and all they labored for in the twinkling of an eye. The agony they are going through is hard to describe,” the worker, Kerrie, said at the time.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov