Church of England Bishops have condemned violence in Nigeria which has seen more than 3,400 Christians killed since the beginning of the year. Human Rights Without Frontiers says that Nigerian Jihadists have “hacked to death” no fewer than 3,462 Christians in Nigeria during the past 200 days, just 68 deaths fewer than the total number of Nigerian Christians killed in 2020. The figures are based on research and eyewitness accounts from InterSociety which has been monitoring and investigating religious persecution and other forms of religious violence by state and non-state sectors across Nigeria since 2010. It found that the number of churches threatened or attacked and closed or destroyed or burnt since January 2021 is also estimated to be around 300, with at least ten priests or pastors abducted or killed by the jihadists.
The number represents a daily average of 17 Christian deaths in Nigeria in the first 200 days of 2021. The report says that Jihadist Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the majority of the killings with at least 1,909 Christian deaths in 200 days, followed by Boko Haram, ISWAP (Islamic State) and Muslim Fulani Bandits, who jointly killed 1,063 Christians. It claims the Nigerian Army, joined by the Nigeria Police Force and other branches of the Armed Forces, accounted for 490 Christian deaths. InterSociety says: “It is deeply saddening that those responsible for the anti-Christian butcheries in the country have continued to evade justice and remained unchecked, untracked, un-investigated and untried; leading to impunity and repeat-atrocities. The surviving victims and families of the dead victims are also totally abandoned by the Government of Nigeria.”
Church of England Bishops have condemned the violence. On Twitter, the Bishop of Kensington questioned the lack of media coverage, while the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, who chairs the government’s Freedom of Religion and Belief Forum, said the religious component of the violence shouldn’t be downplayed. Shocking indeed. This is why we must not downplay the religious component in the narrative of what is happening in Nigeria. Where religion is a driver religiously literate responses are essential. We pray for an end to hatred and persecution. We ask that those who persecute and attack others are brought to justice and are healed through coming to know Your Love. And we ask that those who are bereaved find comfort and peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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