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Persecution in Nigeriacomment (0)

January 12, 2012

Persecution in Nigeria

Christian woman killed in ambush in Kaduna state
KUKUM GIDA, Nigeria — A Muslim villager in Kaduna state allegedly helped Fulani herdsmen and other Muslims from nearby Kafanchan to ambush a Christian settlement, resulting in the death of one woman and gunshot wounds to two other Christians on Dec. 10, area sources said.

Musa Blak, 60, said gunmen lurking behind trees outside his home killed his wife, Kunam Musa Blak, and wounded him and his cousin, 48-year-old Monday Blai Yayok, after a schoolteacher in Kukum Gida village allegedly helped Muslims survey the site. Kunam Musa Blak was 50. The shootings took place in the Jankassa ward of Kukum Gida village, a Christian settlement of 425 people who all attend the local Evangelical Church Winning All. “We believe that Muslim Fulani herdsmen who once lived near our village, with the support of Muslims from Kafanchan, were the ones who attacked us,” Blak said. Jonah Bayina, the 43-year-old head of the village ward, identified the Muslim schoolteacher suspected of helping the gunmen as Isa Damu. “On Tuesday, Dec. 6, he brought some Muslims to the village ... and then they launched the attack on us the following day. We believe he brought the Muslims to enable them to survey our village before attacking us,” Bayina said, adding that Damu disappeared on the night of the attack and has not been seen since. (CDN)

Catholic church bombing leaves 45 dead, 73 injured
MADALLA, Nigeria — A suicide bomb attack on Christmas Day by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram left at least 45 people dead and 73 others injured in or near St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, outside the Nigerian capital of Abuja in Madalla.  

“The shock of the incident has been very traumatic for the people who were at the scene. ... We are all still mourning,” said Pastor Joseph Akor, director of communication of the Minna Diocese.

A widow who is a member of the church went into the building Dec. 29 wailing over the death of her only son. Another woman lost her husband and all their children in the attack. A small girl lost her parents. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has reportedly tried to forestall violence by holding meetings with Muslim and Christian leaders. (CDN)

Five Christians slain in assault in Kaduna state
UNGWAN RAMI, Nigeria — Local Islamists and Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked a Christian community in Kaduna state Dec. 19, killing five people and wounding six, area sources said, just nine days after a deadly attack on a Christian community in Kukum Gida in the same local government area. The Muslim assailants, brandishing firearms and machetes, attacked Christians in Ungwan Rami village of Kaura Local Government Area at 10 p.m. in a manner consistent with other religiously motivated assaults in the state. Christians were killed in November as well, the sources said.

The five Christians killed were Matthew Yusuf, 28; Joseph John, 30; Innocent Abba, 33; Mathias John, 35 and Didam Zakka, 19. Those injured were Linda Emmanuel, 3; Emmanuel Zakka, 28; Gabriel Zakka, 20; Deborah Emmanuel, 19; Dominic Daniel, 25 and Gideon Anthony, 30. The state has suffered a rash of attacks in recent months. On Nov. 10, Muslim Fulani herdsmen assaulted another Christian village, Apiokashi, in the Jema’a Local Government Area, killing village leader Bulus Adamu, 40, and his wife, Ladi Bulus. One of their eight children, Asabe Bulus, said that the family was asleep when the Muslim Fulani herdsmen arrived. “As Christians, we have been living peacefully with these Muslims, but we do not understand why they should now attack us,” she said. (CDN)

Why is this happening?
On Christmas Day, churches were bombed in five Nigerian cities — Madalla (a suburb of the capital Abuja), Jos, Kano, Damaturu and Gadaka — leaving dozens, perhaps hundreds, dead or wounded. The killings were apparently the latest attacks from the violent Islamist group Boko Haram, and they show an increased level not only of violence but also of sophistication, since the explosions were coordinated and widespread, including the northwest, north and center of the country.

These killings mark a further escalation in the growth of radical forms of Islam in Africa’s most populous country.
Muslims are the majority in northern Nigeria, while Christians are a majority in the south. The two are about evenly mixed in the middle belt, which has often been the scene of violent conflict. This conflict has tribal and regional dimensions and involves political power, land and resources, but there is also persistent religious tension.

Beginning in 1999, Shariah law, previously applicable only to matters of family and personal status, was imposed in 12 northern states, effectively making Islam the de facto official religion in those states, in contravention of the federal constitution. Kano state formed a 9,000-strong Hisba (Shariah-enforcement) force. Conflict over Shariah led to thousands of deaths.

Around that time, a group named al-Sunna Wal Jamma and nicknamed “the Taliban,” began attacking Christian settlements in Borno state from bases in the hills of neighboring Cameroon. In January 2004, the group led a violent uprising in Yobe state, displacing 10,000 people before federal forces succeeded in quashing it. In January 2007, the publisher of the Daily Trust newspaper was charged in the Abuja High Court with receiving money from al-Qaeda to fund the Nigerian Taliban, including payment for people to go for terrorist training in Mauritania. In early 2007, there were further attacks on the police in Kano by a group calling itself the Taliban, leaving dozens dead.

The Nigerian Taliban’s current official name is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, but it is usually known by its nickname, Boko Haram, which translates roughly as “Western civilization is forbidden.” In late July 2009, around the town of Maiduguri in the northwest, it attacked police stations, prisons, schools, churches and homes, burning nearly everything in its path.

The violence spread to Borno, Kano and Yobe, where Boko Haram treated as infidel anyone — Christian or Muslim — who did not conform to its views. Christians were a particular focus of the violence, as many were abducted and forced under threat of death to renounce their faith. The riots continued for five days before police were able to stop them, with 700 people killed in Maiduguri alone.

One arrested Boko Haram member, 23-year-old Abdulrasheed Abubakar, confessed to receiving $5,000 and military training in Afghanistan, with the promise of $35,000 on his return there. On Aug. 9, 2009, the group released a statement aligning itself with al-Qaeda and calling for jihad in response to the killing of its leader, Mallam Mohammed Yusuf. There are also reports that some of its members have trained with militants in Mali linked to the organization al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

In August 2011, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, which killed 23 people. While it continues to attack security forces and outposts of Western influence, it is focusing its major attention on killing and displacing Nigeria’s Christian population, which, at some 80 million, is the sixth-largest in the world. It also picked Christmas as a focal time for attacks, a practice followed by its international allies. In 2010, it attacked five churches in Jos as the congregations were celebrating Christmas Eve.

Boko Haram has declared it is in a “holy struggle to oust the secular regime and entrench a just Islamic government” and that it will “hunt and gun down those who oppose the rule of Shariah in Nigeria and ensure that the infidel does not go unpunished.” Its increased sophistication and contacts with other terrorist groups make it a threat not only to the country’s Christians and traditional Muslim leaders, but to the stability of Nigeria as a whole. (BP)

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