Nigeria Elections Put Christians in Danger of More Muslim Attacks

Why more bloodshed is likely on the horizon in the beleaguered nation.

boko_haram_mainReprinted from the Washington Times. 

Muslim persecution of Christians is at a high tide — and there are grave fears of more sectarian bloodletting as millions of people in Nigeria, which is half Muslim and half Christian, vote for their national leaders next month.

These religious atrocities cry out for media attention and political awareness, said Raymond Ibrahim, author of the monthly report “Muslim Persecution of Christians,” which has chronicled attacks on Christians in dozens of countries since July 2011.

Mainstream media rarely cover attacks on Christians, even though they happen “all around the Islamic world,” Mr. Ibrahim said Tuesday.

Muslim-on-Muslim attacks can get broad attention — such as the April kidnappings of some 230 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The mass abductions so alarmed the world that first lady Michelle Obama brought attention to the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls.

But from August to October, Boko Haram and its radical Islamist allies destroyed nearly 200 Christian churches as they rampaged through towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria, said Mr. Ibrahim, a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

His monthly report is published by Gatestone Institute, an international think tank led by John R. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In just four years, he said, Boko Haram has destroyed around 1,000 churches.

The “sheer volume” of the attacks on Christians in Nigeria “makes it one of the worst” places for them, Mr. Ibrahim said.

The peril in Nigeria was driven home Tuesday during a House hearing.

Nigerians are scheduled to vote Feb. 14 from a slate of several presidential candidates, including Christian incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and Muslim challenger Mohammadu Buhari, to lead the nation’s 173 million people. An election for local leadership will be held Feb. 28.

In 2011, Mr. Jonathan’s victory over Mr. Buhari triggered terrible sectarian violence in the Muslim north. More than 700 churches were burned, hundreds of Christians were targeted and killed, and thousands of Christian businesses and homes were torched.

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