A Nigerian priest who oversees trauma care for people victimized by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria visited the United States this week to share his concerns about how Christians are facing lesser-known forms of societal discrimination because of their faith in Christ.
Father Joseph Bature Fidelis, the director of psychosocial support and trauma care in the Diocese of Maiduguri, Nigeria, attended a weekly meeting of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable presided by U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
For the meeting, Fidelis prepared an “ask note” on behalf of his diocese calling for the U.S.’s intervention in the plight of Christians in Nigeria.
“A lot of it is going on and sometimes it’s not so much known to the wider world,” Fidelis told The Christian Post in an interview Tuesday morning. “The response is very slow. So people continue to suffer for their faith.”
In Nigeria, thousands of Christians have been killed in recent years by extremist violence carried out by Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province in Northern Nigeria. Thousands more have been killed amid increased attacks carried out by radical Fulani herders against Christian farming communities in the Middle Belt of the country.
In addition to the extremism and communal violence, Fidelis stressed that Christians living in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria are facing other forms of persecution that are lesser reported in the media but are impacting Christians’ finances, jobs, education, retirement and ability to worship.
According to Fidelis, one particular phenomenon being seen in northern Nigeria is Christians being “deliberately deprived” of certain high-level positions in government.
“They are denied promotion or cannot access certain offices simply for being Christians,” Fidelis said.
Instances of political deprivation, he said, can be seen widely in Borno state and Yobe state.
In Yobe, Fidelis said Christians can’t be head of a government school.
“Muslims have been so much in power, so a lot of Christians will not be able to have access to certain positions,” he explained. “You don’t see it openly done. Let’s say you go for an interview and five or six of you are supposed to qualify for a director position in a department. The Muslim is given preference over a Christian. That pattern has been there steadily. So you watch it and you see that certain positions are just not given to Christians.”
The priest said that in a place like Yobe, Christians might get lower-level local government positions but aren’t likely to be directors or commissioners.
“Maybe they appoint commissioners and out of 25 you have two Christians,” Fidelis detailed.
Fidelis believes that if a person is qualified and competent for a certain position, they should be given those positions no matter what their religious beliefs are.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith