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West must defend Nigeria's Christians

Religious Liberty
27 July 2022
Catholic church massacre Nigeria

The West must promote freedom of religion and condemn Islamist persecution of Nigerian Christians, an ex special envoy has said.

Ján Figeľ, former European Commission Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion outside the EU, says Nigeria's Christians risk being "abandoned by the international community".

He told an online magazine: “Nigeria as the largest African country should not be underestimated or abandoned by the international community to its painful and multiple problems.

"Repetitive bloody attacks against Christian communities by militant Islamists must be stopped, and those who committed crimes should be prosecuted by state authorities.

"President Buhari and the Government of Nigeria must show real efforts towards justice for all. Justice is crucial for dignity of people, for peace, stability and sustainable development of this important country.”

Data from the charity Open Doors shows that between July 2009 and August 2021, 43,000 Nigerians were killed by jihadists and their supporters due to their perceived Christian faith.

An estimated 17,500 churches and more than 2,000 Christian schools have been attacked and around 10 million Christians have had to flee their homes.

In June this year, the UK Government was urged to condemn horrendous persecution of Christians in Nigeria, as attacks on believers intensified.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, vice chair of an all-party group on religious freedom at Westminster, tabled an urgent question asking the government to:

"...make a statement on the killing of church worshippers in Ondo state, Nigeria yesterday, and on wider issues of violence against religious groups in Nigeria".

Responding to the debate, Minister Vicky Ford said:

"Rising conflict and insecurity across Nigeria are having a devastating impact on affected communities. I have raised this issue with the Nigerian authorities on several occasions".

"We are committed to defending freedom of religion or belief for all, and to promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities.

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