Much-persecuted central African Christians are starting to fight back
Right now, geopolitical analysts and anti-terrorism experts may not see anti-Christian persecution around the world as a real security risk, in part because Christians tend not to fight back. Africa, and Nigeria in particular, illustrates that you can’t count on such forbearance enduring forever.
In recent months, hundreds of lives have been lost in southern Kaduna State in central Nigeria as a result of violence pitting nomadic ranchers against local farmers. As it happens, the vast majority of those ranchers are Muslim and the farmers Christian, so inevitably the situation has a clear religious dimension.
Nigeria is the world’s largest mixed Muslim/Christian country, with a population of around 190 million almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians. As an imam in Abuja, the national capital, once told me, it’s like the Vatican and Saudi Arabia rolled into one.
Although the Catholic church estimated in December that more than 800 people had died in the Kaduna clashes, the government officially pegs the total much lower. Government officials have also tried to insist there’s no religious dimension to the conflict, suggesting it’s largely about tensions between the ethnically Fulani ranchers and the patchwork of small tribal groups that farm the region.
Try telling that, however, to Christian farmers who’ve watched their villages burn down while Fulani militants shout Allahu Akbar, wave Islamic flags, and vow to drive infidels from the area.
The thing about Nigeria, of course, is that although the isolated farming communities in Kaduna may be largely powerless, Christians overall aren’t. They’re half the country, and there are plenty of successful Christian entrepreneurs, politicians, and other professionals.
This article continues at [Crux Now] What happens when persecuted Christians fight back?