The militant Islamic Boko Haram movement has demanded that all Christians living in Northern Nigeria must leave. This comes amidst an escalation in terror attacks on churches throughout Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for at least 45 major terrorist attacks on Christians, including assassinations and bombings.
On Christmas Day a series of coordinated terror attacks targeted churches across the country. Muslims set fire to the cars of worshippers outside a church in Damaturu , the capital of Yobe state. A car bomb killed 42 worshippers at a Christmas day morning service at Madalla , just outside the federal capital of Abuja. Some of the churches targeted by Islamic terror attacks included Mountain of Fire and Miracles church in Jos. Churches in Maiduguri have been burned down and Christians killed. In the wake of the lethal Christmas Day bombings across Northern Nigeria, have come reports of Muslim mobs blocking the path of ambulances and delaying their attempts to transport wounded victims from the churches to hospitals.
What is Boko Haram?
Boko Haram has been described as an African Taliban , with links to Al -Qaeda . Boko Haram started in Maiduguri over 15 years ago by Mohammed Yusuf as a Quaranic study group. It quickly developed into a pan-African Jihadist group determined to establish a Muslim Caliphate throughout West Africa. In 2009, more than 700 people were killed in conflict between Nigerian soldiers and Boko Haram followers. Mohammed Yusuf was captured and summarily executed while in police custody at that time. Christians in Jos have lost over 150 people at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists. Boko Haram means: Western Education is forbidden. Boko Haram claims that Western education is sacrilege and they describe themselves as people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and Jihad. Boko Haram demands the imposition of Islamic sharia law across Nigeria. The Nigerian government reports that Boko Haram is financing itself through bank robberies and receives oil money from neighbouring Islamic states. They have been credited with at least 465 killings in Nigeria in the last year.
Some churches now have military detachments entrenched with machine gun nests behind sandbags to protect the congregations from assault. In numerous towns motorbikes have been banned in fear of Boko Haram’s repeated use of motorbikes for hit and run attacks. President Goodluck Jonathan declared a State of Emergency on New Years Eve and closed Nigeria’s borders with Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Christians throughout Egypt have been subjected to legal harassment, state persecution, mob violence, arson attacks, arrests and assassinations. In Qena province, in the village of Rahmaniya-Kebly, Muslim mobs chantingAllah Akbar destroyed the homes and shops of Christians while security forces watched, but did not intervene. Homes and places of worship were torched but the fire brigade arrived 90 minutes late. There are more than 300 mosques in the village of 20,000 people, but only one church. The Assyrian International News Agency reported that no Christians were allowed to vote in their area. The Copts were forcibly prevented from voting, even though they number 50% of the inhabitants of the village. So only Muslim Brotherhood candidates were voted for.
In Bahteem , Qaliubia province, a mob of Muslim Brotherhood radicals stormed into a church and informed them that they no longer had any license and needed to vacate the building which would be turned into a mosque!
An Egyptian policeman opened fire on a crowded train targeting Christian passengers as he shouted Allah Akbar! Since the removal of Hosni Mubarak from power, the Muslim Brotherhood has dominated the political landscape and their party has overwhelmingly won in recent elections. More than 100,000 Christian families have emigrated from Egypt in fear of violence from Islamic extremists.
Midnight Christmas and New Year services were cancelled in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk as a consequence of the never ending assassinations of Christians. A blunt statement from the Chaldean Archbishop, Louis Sako , explained that in future all Christian services had to be scheduled for the daylight hours for security reasons. In 1932, one out of every five Iraqi’s was a Christian. Today the number has dwindled to one in thirty three. Close to a million Christians have emigrated from Iraq because of the anti-Christian persecution that has erupted since democracy came to Iraq. During one attack on a church in Bagdad, 52 were killed in what the terrorists described as a Jihadto exterminate Iraq Christians… an obscene nest of infidels…!
Over 350,000 Christians have fled from Sudan into the newly Independent South Sudan since the secession. Christians are facing growing threats from both Muslim communities and Islamic government officials in Sudan. Church property is routinely confiscated. The police and courts have been unjustly biased in favour of Muslims against Christians. Sudan police have arrested and beaten pastors and evangelists of the Evangelical Church of Sudan and Sudanese Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum.
Christians in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan , in Blue Nile Province and in the oil rich Abyei , have come under aerial bombardment, ground attacks and devastating Scorched Earth campaigns. At least 130,000 Negok Dinka residents in Abyei have fled the fighting as Sudan armed forces have poured into the area, engaging in ethnic cleansing.
In Jonglei state, in South Sudan, severe inter-tribal warfare between the Nuer and Murle people has resulted in an estimated 3,000 deaths and the displacement of over 100,000 people. During the civil war, the National Islamic Front government of Sudan armed militias amongst the Nuer people to attack the neighbouring tribes and destabilise the situation. Entire families have been massacred in tribal violence. According to a report from a local missionary: over 373,000 cattle have been stolen in these raids, 2,182 women and children have been killed, 959 men have been killed, 1,293 children have been abducted and 497 women abducted. At least 28,000 were displaced from Lekwangole and Pibor . Another 19,000 are missing. President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has declared the area in Jonglei state a disaster zone.
On Christmas Day, an angry mob of Hindus raided Christian homes, smashing windows, damaging furniture and assaulting Believers. Thousands of Hindu protestors have objected to the celebration of Christmas. Hindu militants also attacked Evangelical Christians in India’s Southern state of Karnataka. Police were reportedly reluctant to investigate the assaults, interrogating injured Christians as to what had motivated them to convert to Christianity. Reportedly the police sided with the attackers. In Karnataka, many of the injured Christians were arrested and thrown in jail for a week, while no action was taken against the assailants. Christians in India report that this illustrates the justice problem: somebody comes to beat you up, and then the police come and arrest you and accuse you of inciting that other person to violence!
In Orissa state, Christians have documented that of the 3,500 cases of violence that took place during the Orissa massacre, the police have registered only 827 cases. Of these 1,009 of the accused were acquitted. O f the cases that went to court, only 68 ended with a sentence, and of those 412 offenders they only received a minimum sentence. The Executive Secretary of the All India Christian Council, John Dayal , reports that in 400 villages in Orissa , the Christian presence has been completely eliminated. 5,600 homes of Believers were destroyed, 295 churches were burned to the ground, hundreds of Believers were murdered. 56,000 Christians have lost their homes and have not yet received justice from the state. Christians are a minority of just over 2% in India, where Hindus are the overwhelming majority and Muslims constitute 13% of the population.
A Call for Justice
The All India Christian Council has been campaigning to convince the Indian government to pass the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence bill in order to curbcommunal violence which has plagued this country after independence in 1947, and bring justice to the victims. The AICC maintains that Christian minorities are denied justicebecause of the communal behaviour of religious and political extremists and the apathy, or involvement of government administrators.
Over 400 million Christians live under 66 governments which severely restrict religious freedom and persecute Believers. Every year an average of 200,000 Christians are killed for their Faith.
“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it… you are the Body of Christ and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:26-27
Serving the Persecuted
During the last 30 years Frontline Fellowship has served persecuted churches throughout Africa, delivering hundreds-of-thousands of Bibles and Christian books to persecuted Christians, training pastors, teachers, chaplains and evangelists, helping to establish Christian schools, plant churches, develop Bible colleges and medical clinics – ministering to body, mind and spirit.
“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3