The British government has finally acknowledged the killing of Christians in many parts of the world, including Nigeria, as “reaching a near genocide.”
The British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, reacting to a review, led by the Bishop of Truro the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen, which “estimated that one third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group,” regretted that the persecution against christians has not been confronted due to the “political correctness” of governments.
Mounstephen’s research “indicates that Christians are ‘the most widely targeted religious community’,” all over the world and the evidence “suggests that acts of violence and other intimidation against Christians are becoming more widespread,” the report said.
The research also showed that Sub-Saharan Christians suffer “some of the most egregious persecution of Christians.” In Nigeria, the research showed that “the most serious threat to Christian communities came from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, where direct targeting of Christian believers on a comprehensive scale set out to ‘eliminate Christianity and pave the way for the total Islamization of the country’.”
Sudan has continued to “rank as one of the most dangerous countries for Christians; destruction of church property, harassment, arbitrary arrest initiated by state actors remained a problem and non-Muslims were punished for breaking Islamic Shari‘a law,” the report said
The research, commissioned in December last year, took an intensive study of christian persecution in many parts of the world. The research said in the Middle East and Africa, the perpetrators of the persecution “intent to eradicate the Christian community,” and following the UN’s definition of the persecution, the reports said, “the faith group has suffered genocides.”
The report also pointed out a Pew Research which shows that “Christians have been harassed in more countries than any other religious group and have suffered harassment in many of the heavily Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa.”
Abducted Chibok Schoolgirls by Boko Haram – Photo Credit: screenshot Boko Haram propaganda video
In Nigeria, the report said, “month after month, on average hundreds of Christians were being killed for reasons to which their faith was integral. An investigation showed that in 2018 far more Christians in Nigeria were killed in violence in which religious faith was a critical factor than anywhere else in the world; Nigeria accounted for 3,731 of the 4,136 fatalities: 90 percent of the total.” In the country besieged by radical Islamic militia, “the single-greatest threat to Christians over the period under review came from Islamist militant group Boko Haram, with US intelligence reports in 2015 suggesting that 200,000 Christians were at risk of being killed. The extremist movement’s campaign was not just directed against Christians but towards all ‘political or social activity associated with Western society‘, with attacks on government buildings, markets and schools.”
In the over a decade of insurgency by the radical Islamic terrorist group, “Christians continued to be a prominent target. Those worst affected included Christian women and girls ‘abducted, and forced to convert, enter forced marriages, sexual abuse and torture.”
Looking at the rampage by Islamist Fulani herdsmen, the research showed that though “the precise motives behind a growing wave of attacks by nomadic Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria’s Middle Belt has been widely debated, but targeted violence against Christian communities in the context of worship suggests that religious hatred plays a key part.”
Women and Children suffer the most in the persecution of Christians in Nigeria: Stella was attacked by Fulani Herdsmen – Photo credit: Author
The U.K.’s foreign secretary said“I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonizers,” Hunt said. “That has perhaps created an awkwardness in talking about this issue – the role of missionaries was always a controversial one and that has, I think, also led some people to shy away from this topic.”
“What we have forgotten in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet,” Hunt added.