Fulani Militants Kill Five Christians in Nigeria: Rising of Christian Persecution in Sub-Saharan Africa

Farrukh Saif

July 4, 2024

Christian persecution in Africa

On June 17, 2024, a brutal attack on a Christian community in Ewehko Village, also known as Anguwan Paul, in Kajuru county, Nigeria, resulted in the deaths of five Christians. The assault, carried out by suspected militant Fulani Muslims, occurred during a prayer meeting at approximately 2:15 p.m.

Attack And Eyewitnesses:

Eyewitnesses reported that the attackers, armed with AK-47s and machetes, stormed the village shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is Great). They opened fire indiscriminately, killing four men and one woman, including an officer at the door of the church.

In addition to the loss of life, the assailants caused sizable property damage. They set fire to the pastor’s house and several motorcycles belonging to church leaders who had gathered for the prayer meeting.

Benjamin Maro, a resident of the village, confirmed the tragic event and condemned the attack. Search efforts are currently underway in the surrounding areas to locate any additional victims who may still be missing.

Angwan Magani, a leader of the Evangelical Church Winning ALL (ECWA), revealed that the community had received an early warning to leave but had dismissed it as a rumor. Despite informing security forces, they reportedly refused to provide protection, allegedly due to the community’s Christian faith.

Islamic Militants:

This attack is part of a broader pattern of violence against Christian communities in Nigeria, particularly in states like Kaduna, Plateau, and Benue. The region has experienced ongoing insecurity due to attacks by various groups, including Fulani militants, Boko Haram insurgents, and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters.

The persistent violence has led to numerous casualties, displacements, and destruction of property. In some areas, farming communities have been deserted due to escalating attacks. The situation has drawn international attention, with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urging the U.S. State Department to add Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for severe religious freedom violations.

As the Christian community in Ewehko Village mourns its losses and deals with the aftermath of this attack, calls for increased security measures and protection for vulnerable communities continue to grow.

The Rising of Christian Persecution in Sub-Saharan Africa:

In recent years, sub-Saharan Africa has emerged as a hotspot for Christian persecution, with alarming statistics painting a horrible picture of religious freedom in the region.

The latest reports on global Christian persecution highlight a disturbing trend: 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are now featured on persecution lists, with 15 of these falling into the “extremely high” persecution tier. This represents a substantial deterioration in religious freedom across the region, making it one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians.

The Epicenter of Violence:

Nigeria, often referred to as the epicenter of Christian persecution in Africa, continues to be the deadliest country for Christians. In the past year alone, over 4,100 Christians were killed in Nigeria, accounting for 82% of the global total. The government has witnessed 4,650 Christians killed, 470 churches attacked or closed, and more than 2,500 people abducted in a single year.

Spreading Beyond Borders

The violence is no longer confined to Nigeria. Neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Niger, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen a rapid increase in persecution. This spread has been particularly alarming, catching many governments and international organizations off guard.

Root Causes of Persecution

Several factors contribute to the rise in Christian persecution in sub-Saharan Africa:

Islamist extremism: Militant groups like Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) target Christian communities.

Weak governance: Many countries in the region struggle with ineffective security measures and corrupt institutions.

Ethnic tensions: In some areas, religious persecution is intertwined with ethnic conflicts.

Hope and Resilience:

Despite the dire situation, Christians in Africa showed resilience in their faith. Even amidst the region’s severe persecution, Christianity is Africa’s fast-growing faith. We therefore request you all to pray for the Persecuted Church in Africa.

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Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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