Join us on Wednesday, April 7th

March 15, 2010

On Wednesday, April 7th from 4:45 pm on, religious, civic and human rights leaders of many faiths and backgrounds will gather in front of the Nigerian Consulate in New York City to raise their voices of conscience about the continuing massacres of Christians as well as the ongoing barbaric persecution of non-Muslim minorities by jihadists in Nigeria and elsewhere across the globe.  

While there are no official figures yet to confirm the numbers killed in the March 7th Massacre of Christians in Nigeria, we do know that many of the victims were children, women and the elderly.  They were trapped in nets and hacked to death, slashed as they slept in their beds, beheaded, and set on fire.  Those arrested reportedly belong to the Muslim Fulani terror group.

The protest will take place at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, 828 Second Ave (at 44th Street), New York , NY

We will start gathering at 4:45pm.

To endorse or otherwise help with this effort, please call (212) 726-1124 or email actionalliance1@yahoo.com.

Date:  Wednesday, April 7th

Time: 4:45pm on

Location: Permanent Mission of Nigeria, 2nd Avenue and 44th Street, New York City


Speakers

April 6, 2010

Speakers list to be posted, please check back.


AP: Ill Nigerian president meets Christian leaders

April 5, 2010
By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press Writer Jon Gambrell, Associated Press Writer, April 5, 2010
LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigeria’s ill and long unseen president met briefly with Christian religious leaders Monday, still physically weak but “able to grunt out an amen,” a pastor who took part in the visit said.

Pastor Emmanuel Kure of the Throneroom Trust Ministry in Kaduna state he and three other Christian leaders met for “about five to 10 minutes” with Umaru Yar’Adua at the nation’s presidential palace in Abuja. Kure said he and the other leaders received separate requests to attend the meeting on behalf of the presidency.

The leaders led a prayer to God on the behalf of Yar’Adua, a Muslim from the country’s Islamic north.

“He wasn’t a Christian, so I don’t think he would understand what we said on his behalf,” Kure said. “He was able to grunt out an amen.”

Yar’Adua, 58, hasn’t been seen publicly since late November, when he left Nigeria for treatment in a Saudi Arabian hospital. The president’s chief physician said Yar’Adua suffered from acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. But kidney problems and ill health long have plagued Yar’Adua, who even left the country during his 2007 electoral campaign to seek medical treatments in Germany.

“I am told that it is a great improvement from his previous state,” Kure said.

Kure declined to offer further details about Yar’Adua’s condition, saying: “We should not overheat the politics.” However, the visit comes after many criticized Yar’Adua for meeting privately with Islamic leaders Thursday without addressing the nation. During that visit, the imam of Nigeria’s national mosque said that Yar’Adua could raise his hands in prayer though he never stood up.

The visit by Christian leaders also may be an attempt by Yar’Adua’s closest allies to quiet criticisms over the religious nature of the last visit as well. The split among Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, erupts into periodic violence.

Yar’Adua left the country without formally placing Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in charge, sparking a constitutional crisis in a nation that is America’s No. 3 supplier of crude oil. The National Assembly empowered Jonathan to become acting president Feb. 9. A military convoy and an ambulance apparently swept Yar’Adua back into the presidential palace Feb. 24, though his Christian vice president remained in control of the nation.

The nation’s ruling People’s Democratic Party rotates its presidential candidates among the two faiths, though democracy only has existed for a decade’s time in a nation once ruled by coup and military dictators.

Yar’Adua can resume control of the presidency by notifying the National Assembly, but so far hasn’t. Analysts have suggested those surrounding Yar’Adua brought the ailing leader back to the country to keep a check on Jonathan’s ambitions even if he’s not strong enough to lead.


Obama Invites Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to U.S.

April 5, 2010

 


Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Jonathan to Meet Obama April 12

Nasiru L. Abubakar

5 April 2010



Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will visit the United States of America on April 12-13 for the Nuclear Security Summit on the invitation of President Barack Obama.

Acting President Jonathan was earlier expected to visit the US on April 7.The nuclear summit is being promoted by President Obama and will attract over 40 heads of state in Washington.

The summit will take place just days after the US and Russia are scheduled to sign a new start treaty to reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles.

The two-day summit would not be country-specific but would be aimed at eliminating clandestine proliferation and trafficking in nuclear weapons and material.

However, Iran and North Korea, accused of planning to build nuclear weapons have not been invited to the summit.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria-U.S. Bi-National Commission (BNC) agreement to improve bilateral relations in four key areas will be launched on Tuesday in Washington D.C.

Sources close to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C and the U.S. State Department confirmed to NAN that the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed, will sign the agreement on April 6.

The event, which was earlier scheduled for April 7, was rescheduled to April 6 due to administrative reasons, the sources said. Last week, in his maiden news conference with reporters in Washington D.C., the new Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Prof. Ade Adefuye, described the agreement as a major step forward for the country.

Adefuye noted that the signing of the agreement was coming few days to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s historic visit to U.S.

Clinton and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ojo Maduekwe held discussions on how to forge a new partnership under the BNC.

Copyright © 2010 Daily Trust. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
AllAfrica – All the Time


AP: 164 People Face Charges Over Massacres In Nigeria

March 24, 2010
Police Say 164 People Will Be Charged For Their Alleged Roles In Central Nigeria Massacres

March 21, 2010, LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – A Nigerian police spokesman says 164 people will be charged with a variety of offenses, including terrorism, for their suspected roles in the slaughter of more than 200 people in central Nigeria this month.

Spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu says 41 suspects will be charged with terrorism for their alleged role in the March 7 massacres in villages south of the regional capital of Jos. If convicted they face possible life in prison.

Ojukwu says others will be charged with illegally holding firearms, rioting and other offenses.


Joseph Bottum: Yes, It Is Sectarian Violence — Nigeria’s Christians Massacred Again

March 24, 2010

Published on The Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com)

March 29, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 27

Early last Wednesday morning, March 17, a Muslim mob swept through the Christian villages of Biye and Batem in central Nigeria. At least 13 dead. At least a dozen homes burned. Machetes. Children and pregnant women among the dead. Tongues cut from the corpses. All the usual horrors.

And all the usual responses. The state governor, Jonah Jang, declared (according to the African news service This Day) that the government is “taking necessary measures and exploring all possible avenues,” without having much to say about what those measures and avenues might be. The state police carefully explained that the responsibility for security lies with the military. And the military reacted by issuing a press statement—an extraordinary document which somehow managed both to insist that “but for the timely intervention of troops deployed at the Riyom area, carnages would have been carried out in the two communities” and to admit, a paragraph later, that at least “nine people were killed at Biye while 13 houses were burnt in both communities before the arrival of the troops.”

Perhaps such a small number of murders and arsons doesn’t count anymore as carnage in Nigeria—which is a sign of how close the nation is to collapse. The attacks on the villages 28 miles south of the state capital of Jos came just ten days after major attacks on three farming villages 3 miles south of Jos that left (according to the BBC) 500 dead and 75 houses burned. 

Police who were warned of mobs gathering from out of state more than 24 hours before these attacks of March 7. A security force that didn’t even begin to move until two hours after the attacks. And emergency text messages from the governor that didn’t go through, a spokesman explained, because of “low batteries” in the cell-phones of the leading generals.

Much of this is the incompetence, corruption, and fear of encountering well-armed rebels typical of too many third-world militaries. But another factor is at work in Nigeria—for the military police forces are terrified of being perceived as taking sides in the struggles between Christians and Muslims that divide the country.

Make no mistake: What is happening in Nigeria is a battle of religion. Perhaps it has roots in the ancient divide between herdsmen and farmers. Perhaps it echoes some of the old tribal animosities among the Fulani, Berom, Hausa, Tarok, Yoruba, Ibo, and all the rest. And perhaps it is exacerbated by the geographical problems of a nation with an impoverished but politically powerful north and an oil-rich but weak south. One way or another, however, these divisions are now invariably translated into religious terms—and the blood that gets spilled is always in the name of God.

Not that anyone wants to admit it. The conflict has “more to do with disputes over access to natural resources than religion,” insisted John Onaiyekan, the Catholic archbishop of Abuja. It is “fueled more by ethnic, social, and economic problems than religion,” said the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, according to a CNN report.

But even while they make these statements, you can hear the wishful tone—the overriding desire to make untrue the truth they all actually know. If it’s about corruption, or politics, or social problems, then it has a cause and perhaps someone to blame. But if it is about religion, what then should they do? 

The population of Nigeria is almost exactly half Muslim (mostly in the north) and half Christian (mostly in the south), but the division is not stable. Christianity has grown dramatically in recent decades—the nearly complete Christianizing of sub-Saharan Africa in the 20th century is one of the greatest stories of conversion in history—and the new Christians of Nigeria have no desire to stop their advance. Islam lives badly with other religions even where it is confidently dominant, and in Nigeria, it feels insecure and defensive, with the nation’s proselytizing energy arrayed against it.

There may have been more politics than religion behind the adoption of Islamic sharia law by 12 northern states in 1999; the demagogues were out in force at the time, and in Zamfara, the first state to take the plunge, the governor was desperately looking for an issue he could ride. But the reason that sharia could be such an issue—the cause of its political salience—was the deep, existential insecurity from which the Islamic population of Nigeria suffers. 

They can feel themselves slowly losing—in Nigeria, almost uniquely among countries with a large Muslim population—and it should not be surprising that they lash out against the missionaries who come up to proselytize in the northern states and against the Christian communities in the central states like Plateau, with its small villages around the religiously divided city of Jos. 

The Christians are hardly blameless. Accurate figures of what is called the Yelwa Massacre are impossible to find; Caroline Cox of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust has accused Islamic propagandists of systematic exaggeration: “A consistent pattern has emerged” in all these clashes, in which “Muslim militants” take all the corpses, Christian and Muslim alike, to mosques, “where they are photographed and released to the media, creating the impression that these are Muslim victims.” Nonetheless, there seems no doubt that Christians brutally attacked Muslims in the central Nigerian town of Yelwa in 2004.

But the far more usual pattern is one of Islamic attacks, with a consistent attempt by the Western media to find moral equivalence, or even to blame the Christians for provoking the attacks. Predictable “reprisal” and “revenge” for Christian violence, the Los Angeles Times sniffed after the March 7 murders.

This will not do. Over 300 Christian churches have been burned in Nigeria over the last four years. Jos has become a war zone, and the opening blow is almost always from the Islamic side. The September 2001 battle—1,000 dead—began when a Muslim mob attacked a Christian woman for crossing a mosque’s grounds during prayer. The November 2008 riot—400 dead—grew from a Muslim crowd’s violent protest of local election results. And the January 2010 clash—200 dead—started, according to the state police commissioner, when Muslims set a Catholic church on fire. 

The political instability of Nigeria remains an open threat to the communities in the central states. The vice president, a Christian named Goodluck Jonathan, was appointed acting president by the legislature on February 9, after two and half months of absence by the Muslim president, Umaru Yar’Adua, who was receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Yar’Adua reportedly returned to Nigeria on February 24. No one other than his wife has claimed to have seen him, and rumors abound that he is in a coma. But his alleged presence in the country clouds the political situation, and Jonathan’s response came on March 17, when he dismissed the entire 42-member cabinet Yar’Adua had assembled—an act for which it is not clear he has constitutional authority.

Then, the next day, Jonathan ordered home the Nigerian ambassador to Libya, after Muammar Qaddafi called for dividing Nigeria into two countries, Muslim and Christian, in order to “stop bloodshed and burning of places of worship.” That’s not the nuttiest idea the Libyan leader has ever suggested, but it resonated badly among Nigerians who remember the civil war that followed the secession of Biafra in the late 1960s. It would require Nigeria’s Christians, moreover, to surrender to the ungentle power of permanent Muslim authority their small but growing communities in the north. And why should they agree to that? 

This political confusion could easily issue in a military coup and subsequent civil war—which, given the way all conflict in Nigeria quickly translates into religious battle, would mean yet more sectarian violence. In the face of that threat, who could want a distribution of weapons to ethnic and religious communities? But when government fails, people must assume the functions of government. 

If the Nigerian authorities are so frozen that they cannot safeguard their citizens—if the villages are to suffer, again and again, all the usual horrors—then there will be only two things for the churches, both in Nigeria and abroad, to do: Arm the Christian communities and damn those whose failures made it necessary.

Joseph Bottum is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and the editor of First Things.


Faith J.H. McDonnell: Nigerian Jihad

March 19, 2010

– FrontPage Magazine – http://frontpagemag.com

 By Faith J. H. McDonnell, January 29, 2010 @ 12:00 am

On Christmas Day, some 300 people almost died when Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up the holiday travelers on Northwest Airlines Flight #253. Regardless of any pronouncements to the contrary by the DHS Secretary, State Department, Attorney General, President Obama, ACLU, Code Pink, C.A.I.R., or anyone else who believes in a kinder, gentler Islamic terrorism, this was not criminal activity, but jihad. All have heard how previous to clamming up at the advice of his terrorist-defending attorney [1], the Panty-Pyrotechnician boasted [2] to FBI agents that there were many potential jihadists just like him in Yemen. What he did not mention is that there are also thousands of active jihadists back home in Nigeria [3], nor that Yemen was not the only place training Nigerian terrorists.

An incendiary crotch may be a new twist, as it were, but the struggle against infidels for the global domination of Islam is an ongoing one that spans from Saudi Arabia to Sudan, from Denmark to Detroit, from Brussels to Boston. It is just that so far, jihad usually takes a different form in the United States — relying on the kindness (gullibility, naiveté, and political correctness) of strangers and the paralysis of the United States government, as democracy is turned inside out to the advantage of its enemies. That may not always be the case.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, jihad has been more aggressive. Inter-religious violence resulting from radical Islam has been responsible for the deaths of over 50,000 people in the past ten years in Nigeria. Although state religion is ostensibly a violation of the country’s national, secular constitution, 12 out of 36 states have instituted Shari’a (Islamic law) as the highest legal authority. And, as is usually the case, Shari’a has opened the door to unchecked persecution of non-Muslims.

In states where Islam does not hold complete sway, Islamists are doing their damnedest to change the situation. Such is the case in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in Nigeria’s middle belt. Violence broke out in Jos on Sunday, January 17, 2010. (Interesting, how many attacks on Christians take place on Sunday or on holy days, such as Christmas.) Most media reported “conflicting accounts” [4] of the origin of the attacks, in which nearly 500 people were killed.  In Times Online [4], State Commissioner of Police Greg Anyating said that the violence began with Muslim youths setting fire to a church. But Muslims have denied this claim and blame Christian youths stopping a Muslim man from rebuilding his house for triggering the violence.

Compass Direct New Service [5] further details the attack that almost wiped out a small village on the outskirts of Jos. Their sources confirm that the violence began with an unprovoked attack on worshippers at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church. “Some Muslim youths invaded some churches and started burning and destroying properties,” said Rev. Chuwang Avou of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). “We were told that the youths pursued a lady to the church. Nobody knew what the lady did. What we just discovered was that the entire atmosphere was ignited and houses were being burned,” he continued.

In addition to St. Michael’s, the Muslim youths, in a true spirit of ecumenism, burned the buildings of churches of several Protestant denominations, as well. Christ Apostolic Church, the Assemblies of God Church, three branches of the Church of Christ in Nigeria and two buildings of the Evangelical Church of West Africa were all burned. Times Online says that volunteers discovered bodies “shoved into communal wells and sewer dumps.” They also found the bodies of those killed by gunshot and machete in the bush outside the village. Surprisingly, only 2 pastors and 46 other Christians were originally confirmed killed amongst all the dead, according to CAN.

But Archbishop of Jos in the Anglican Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin Kwashi, said that Christians were in tears during worship the next Sunday because of missing family and friends whose bodies they have been unable to find. “This means that the corpses we are shown on television in the mosque must include people the Muslims have killed,” said Kwashi in the January 26 Times Online. “Quite a number of local people, Christians and other non-Muslims, are finding that people are missing. They have been looking around for the last three days and can’t find them. They have come to the conclusion that their bodies are among the corpses in the mosque that are being used to whip up emotion against the church,” he said. Kwashi called on Muslims to “hand back the dead.”

In a letter posted to web site Anglican Mainstream [6], Kwashi asked, “Who identified the corpses to certify that these are Muslim corpses in the mosque? Where were they taken from?  What is the aim of taking corpses to the mosque and displaying them to the world?” he continued.” Suppose Christians took corpses to the church and displayed them to the world, what would be the outcome?” he demanded.

Archbishop Kwashi criticized the media for making the Christians the scapegoats, granting moral equivalency to the attacks of the Islamists and the actions of their victims to defend themselves. He made it clear that the Nigerian Christians should not be blamed for responding to defend themselves against unprovoked attack. But at the same time he called for peace and said the Bible ruled out retaliation. “The Gospel that I preach does not allow for vengeance in the face of provocation,” he explained to Times Online religion correspondent, Ruth Gledhill.

Kwashi does not speak lightly or hypocritically. In recent years, he and his family survived two deadly attacks. Early in 2006, an armed gang of Islamists broke into his home in Jos. Kwashi was out of the country, or he probably would have been killed. As it was, his wife, Gloria, was brutally assaulted and two of the couple’s sons were severely beaten. Mrs. Kwashi’s injuries left her blind until her sight was restored later in the year after treatment and much prayer with church friends in the United States.

The Kwashis were targeted again in July 2007. This time Kwashi was present when a gang came in the middle of the night. The men forced him out to the backyard. Then, the bishop says, “They changed their minds” and brought him back to the house. The bishop, believing he was going to die, knelt to pray. But instead of killing him, the gang looted the house and left. The bishop believes that the prayer of brothers and sisters around the world protected him that night.

Protection is definitely required to survive as a Christian in the midst of the ongoing jihad in Nigeria. The January riots came just as Nigerian Christians were beginning to recover from horrific attacks that took place last summer. In July 2009, Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group whose name means “western civilization is forbidden” launched a series of attacks on church and state facilities in 4 northern and central states. Known as the “Nigerian Taliban,” Boko Haram militants killed hundreds, maybe thousands, and used Christians as human shields against the security forces. The head of the Nigerian Red Cross reported that kidnapped survivors of the Boko Haram attack provided chilling testimonies of captured security service personnel being hacked to death and of Christian men being forced to choose between conversion or beheading. According to estimates by the Nigerian Red Cross Society, more than 1000 children lost parents in the July clashes.

According to Archbishop Kwashi, one hopeful sign, being ignored by the media, is that in many parts of Jos and the wider Plateau State, in spite of “the misinformation, rumor, and media reports” Christians and Muslims “have chosen to seek understanding, mutual respect and community life together” and a way to defeat the jihadists. In that spirit, on January 28, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) at a press conference revealed [7] information that it had received from a Muslim cleric who is disgusted with the behavior of the jihadists and confirmed reports of the growth and agenda of Boko Haram.

PFN chairman, Rev. Sam Alaha said that Muslim cleric Mohammed Bala Ahmed had confirmed to them that over 3800 Boko Haram members had been trained by the Taliban in terrorist camps in Sudan. These particular jihadists, he said, were specifically “prepared for the fight in Jos,” revealing in just this one example the extent of the organizing and long-range planning of global jihad.

Ahmed continued that after the July attacks when the Boko Haram were routed by Nigerian security forces, they retreated to the bush where they were training youth “for the purpose of attacking Christians in the entire northern part of the country.”  Alaha concluded the press conference by warning that until this “root is traced and totally excised” they would see their city “still smoking in their hands without provocation.”

In August 2009, Boko Haram itself released a statement [8] in which it declared “total jihad in Nigeria,” threatening to Islamize and enslave the entire nation (something it may have picked up from the terrorist training camps in Sudan). The statement continued:

The Boko Haram is an Islamic Revolution which impact is not limited to Northern Nigeria, in fact, we are spread across all the 36 states in Nigeria, and Boko Haram is just a version of the Al Qaeda which we align with and respect. We support Osama bin Laden, we shall carry out his command in Nigeria until the country is totally Islamised which is according to the wish of Allah.

A week after the attacks in Jos, one of Archbishop Kwashi’s fellow Anglican bishops, the Most Rev. Peter Imasuen, the bishop of Benin Diocese in Edo State in southern Nigeria, was kidnapped after celebrating Sunday Mass at the cathedral. One can hope that the kidnappers, who have demanded the equivalent of $300,000 U.S. as ransom, are “mere criminals” and not jihadists. Then there may be a chance for his safe release. But the other actions in Jos, and elsewhere, are the actions of jihad. Archbishop Kwashi said: “At the heart of this is that they [Muslims] want to overrun this part of the world and make it Islamic. The operation is like terrorism.” Like terrorism and like jihad. Very much like them in fact.

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s [9] Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).


Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/01/29/nigerian-jihad/

URLs in this post:

[1] terrorist-defending attorney: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126239175516413083.html

[2] boasted: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6969645.ece

[3] Nigeria: http://www.historyofjihad.org/nigeria.html

[4] “conflicting accounts”: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article7002320.ece

[5] Compass Direct New Service: http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/nigeria/14159/

[6] Anglican Mainstream: http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/?p=21755#more-21755

[7] revealed: http://allafrica.com/stories/201001280597.html

[8] released a statement: http://allafrica.com/stories/200908140646.html

[9] The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s: http://www.theird.org/Page.aspx?pid=183&srcid=-2

Copyright © 2009 FrontPage Magazine. All rights reserved.


BREAKING NEWS: Barnabas Fund Exposes Media Coverup of Massacres of Christians in Nigeria

March 18, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010, 11:01 AM
David P. Goldman, First Things

Moral equivalency is a matter of dogma in the mainstream media: When five hundred Christians were massacred in their homes by machete-wielding Muslims in Nigeria’s Plateau Province on the night of March 7, news reports claimed it was simply retaliation for previous attacks on Muslims. That is an outright falsehood, according to The Barnabas Fund, an interdenominational Christian organization devoted to assisting Christians around the world who face persecution.

Here is the Barnabas Fund’s press release laying out the facts:

Nigeria: Media Distortions Of Anti-Christian Massacres In Jos:

The world has been horrified by the bloodshed in Jos, the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau State, as reported by the international media during the last six weeks. It appears, however, that deliberate manipulation and deception at a local level have meant that international reporting has been inaccurate, and has created the false impression that Christians were the aggressors and Muslims the victims when the reality is the opposite. So Christians have become double victims, suffering not only violence but also unjust blame.

Two incidents of large-scale violence have occurred, first in the city of Jos itself on Sunday 17 January 2010, and then in three mainly Christian villages to the south of Jos on Sunday 7 March.

In the latter incident men from the Muslim Fulani tribe, armed with swords and machetes, arrived at the villages in the early hours of the morning. The residents of Zot, Dogo Nahauwa and Rastat were woken by the sound of gunshots and ran terrified into the streets, where the attackers were waiting for them. A horrendous massacre followed. Local police say 109 people were killed, but other sources suggest this figure could be much higher, perhaps up to 500.

 

Some media sources have reported that this atrocity was in retaliation for an attack by Christians on Muslims in Jos in January, where up to 300 people died. It is clear, however, that this earlier violence was started by Muslims who attacked a church. (See previous article: Nigeria: Religious Violence in Jos – The Christians Speak Out) Christian leaders in Nigeria acknowledge that some Christians retaliated and do not condone their actions, but there is no evidence to suggest that their response was on the size or scale reported in the media. There are conflicting reports about how many of the dead in January were Christians and how many Muslims. Baroness Caroline Cox notes that “In the violent attacks, not only in Plateau state but also in neighbouring Bauchi and other northern states, a consistent pattern has emerged … the Muslim militants take corpses to mosques, where they are photographed and released to the media, creating the impression that these are Muslim victims.”

In January a church leader in Jos expressed his belief that Muslims had carried false reports about the conflict to the international media in order to discredit the Church. Confirmation of this view may be found in a video report produced by the Aljazeera news channel in co-operation with a powerful Nigerian Muslim organisation called Jama’atu Nasril Islam and later posted on YouTube via various Muslim websites. Not only does this video suggest that the January violence was simply a massacre of Muslims by Christians; it also appears to use footage from other contexts altogether, spliced in to give bogus support to its story.

It is in this context that the violence on 7 March has been reported as “retaliation” by Muslims against Christians, but this has been denied by the governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, who said that it cannot plausibly be seen as a reprisal for the earlier outbreak. He has also criticised another Aljazeera report on the January violence, saying, “Some people moved Aljazeera there and then covered dead bodies and started labelling them. When you cover dead bodies and start labelling them, who knows who you are covering?”

An eyewitness account from 7 March describes how “attackers were shooting to herd fleeing villagers toward another group of attackers carrying machetes … The attackers asked people, ‘Who are you?’ in Fulani, a language used mostly by Muslims, and killed those who did not answer back in Fulani.” By Sunday afternoon the bodies of the dead were lining the dusty streets. Many of the victims were among the most defenceless – elderly people, women and children, including a four-day-old baby. All the churches in Dogo Nahawa had been burned down, and many homes had been torched. The next day Christians wailed in the street and sang hymns to Jesus as a truck carried dozens of bodies to a mass grave. Hundreds of Christians have fled their homes, fearing further attacks. Significantly, Ben Kwashi, the Anglican Archbishop of Jos, has called the attacks “systematic and quite well organised”, indicating that they were pre-planned.

Incidents of large-scale anti-Christian violence have occurred periodically in Nigeria’s Middle Belt (where Christians and Muslims are roughly equal in number), and sometimes in the Muslim-majority North, for many years. But recently these have become more frequent and severe, with major outbreaks in Jos (November 2008), Bauchi State (February 2009), Borno State (July 2009) and Jigawa State (February 2010), in addition to those described above.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, comments,

“Once again our brothers and sisters in Jos have suffered grievously in anti-Christian attacks. The seemingly skewed reporting by the international media of the January violence has exposed them to the risk of unjust ‘retaliation’. Please join us in praying for them in their acute distress, and ask that the Lord will protect them from further harm. It is so rare that the international media report incidents in which Christians suffer violence or injustice. How tragic that in this case they have done so but with such a strong anti-Christian bias as to make the Christians seem the aggressors not the victims.”

Barnabas Fund is sending assistance to those bereaved or made homeless by the violence.


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