Committed “in the name of the prophet Mohammed:”
Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.
It was the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa’s most populous nation. An Associated Press reporter saw mobs of Muslim protesters swarm through the city center with machetes, sticks and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gas on him and set him ablaze…
…Thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri [Nigeria] in a three-hour rampage before troops and police reinforcements restored order, Nigerian police spokesman Haz Iwendi said. Iwendi said security forces arrested dozens of people in the city about 1,000 miles northeast of the capital, Lagos.
Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protesters attacked and looted shops owned by minority Christians, most of them with origins in the country’s south.
“Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters,” Ezeoke said. Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed…
The bloodshed comes a little more than week after Nigerian MPs burned Danish and Norwegian flags in a ceremony in the parliament premises–and despite the conciliatory Christian Association of Nigeria’s condemnation of the cartoons.
The Nigerian sharia council wants the Danish cartoonists executed.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer writes: “If there is something worse than the killing of 15 innocent Nigerian Christians and the burning of their churches by their Muslim brethren for the sin of belonging to the same religion as the Danes, it is the refusal of reporters to tell the ugly truth.”
Indeed. None of the news stories make clear just how widespread, brutal, and prolonged Muslim violence against Christians in Nigeria has been as sharia law spreads. Via Persecution.org, I’ve included a partial chronology below:
April 22, 2003 – A pastor and six of his family members were killed in Kano in a house fire which was believed to have been set by Muslim militants. Pastor Sunday Madumere was known as a powerful preacher who even converted many Muslims. Madumere’s wife and three children were killed in the fire as well as two other men believed to be relatives. (Compass Direct)
April 7, 2003 – Armed insurgents attacked Wereng village near the Vom suburb of Jos. (CSW/ANS)
April 4, 2003 – A group of armed Muslims attacked the village of Fobur in Langtang. One woman was killed and several homes were set on fire. The same group is also believed to have burned down 30 homes in the village of Zambwar. (CSW/ANS)
March 18, 2003 – Up to 2,000 white clad jihad warriors attacked the town of Kardako in Wase Local Government Area (LGA) shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Using sophisticated weaponry, the Hausa Fulani Muslims killed at least 22 people and injured 16. Over two dozen others were reported missing after the deadly attack. (CSW/ANS)
February 19, 2003 – Extremists from the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations attacked Christian schools in Ibadan in an effort to force the schools to require women to wear Islamic head coverings. Hundreds of students and teachers were injured before police could intervene to stop the attacks. Fifty-one people were arrested in connection with the attacks. (Compass Direct)
Ongoing – In their application of strict sharia law, Nigeria’s northern states have been nullifying rights given to Nigerian citizens by the Nigerian Constitution. Thus far two women have been sentenced to death for adultery after having children out of wedlock. Both were sentenced at Arabic trials where they did not fully understand the charges against them. The fathers of the children were acquitted because of insufficient evidence. According to the law, at least four men must testify that they witnessed the adultery for a man to be charged. For the women, however, having a child outside of wedlock is sufficient proof. One of the women, Safiya Hussaini was later acquitted. The other, Amina Lawal, is scheduled to be executed by stoning once her baby is weaned. Both of these cases prove the Islamic state governments have no regard for the Constitution, which confirms the sanctity of human life. The rights of Christians and those who choose not to adhere to Islamic law are being violated. (ANS)
December 26, 2002 – An armed Muslim mob attacked Christians concluding a Christmas celebration in Bauchi. The Celestial Church of Christ and many Christian homes were burned as Christians fled to police and army barracks for safety. Police were able to intervene and stop the attack. (Compass Direct)
December 14, 2002 – Four Catholics were killed and eight others were injured when federal police officers stopped a bus returning from a crusade and all-night prayer vigil. The bus driver was shot at point blank range after refusing to give the police officers a bribe. Three passengers were also shot as they tried to calm the situation. The rest of the passengers fled on foot. The Enugu governor was appalled by the killings and demanded that federal troops be withdrawn from the state. (Compass Direct)
December 12, 2002 – During an attack on Christians in Rim, Plateau State, Rev. Bitrus Manjang, his son, daughter-in-law and their six-month old child were shot to death outside their home. At least 20 houses were burned and many more were injured in the attack by Hausa-Fulani Muslims. It is also reported that there is a gas shortage in the area. It is feared that Muslims are hoarding gas for future attacks on Christians. A similar shortage was experienced just prior to a major attack on Jos in September of 2001. (CSW/ANS)
November 20-21, 2002 – Angry Muslims went on a rampage in Kaduna after an article in the This Day newspaper suggested that the prophet Muhammad would probably have married a contestant from the Miss World pageant scheduled to be held in Abuja. Muslim mobs ransacked the newspaper’s office and then began to attack Christian targets, damaging up to 20 churches. Over 200 people were killed and 1,200 were injured in the attacks. Non-Muslims were reportedly singled out and stabbed, bludgeoned, or even burned to death. (Barnabas Fund, CSW)
October 31, 2002 – A clash over student elections at the Federal College of Education in Zaria ended in the death of 20 Christian students. Fifty other Christians were injured. Muslim militants are believed to have helped Muslim students during the violence. (Compass Direct)
October 24, 2002 -Forty Christians were killed when a mob of about 2,000 Muslims attacked the town of Fajul in Plateau State. Mercenaries from Chad and Niger were believed to be among the group, which burned down homes, raped several women, and ambushed 17 policemen sent to stop the attack. (Compass Direct)
September 11, 2002 – A bomb exploded at the Church of Christ in the Laranto suburb of Jos in Plateau State. No one was injured, but there was some structural damage to the church building. (CSW)
August 13, 2002 – The government of Kano State told a church delegation that half of the churches in the state must be closed because of Muslim complaints about “too many churches.” Church leaders refused to consent to the government’s demands. At least 20 churches have been destroyed in Kano over the past 3 years. (Compass)
August 2002 – The governor of Zamfara announced that the Arabic language must be spoken by all residents, including Christians, to enhance the Islamic faith. The governor had previously introduced the sharia law code as well. (Compass Direct)
June 6, 2002 – A Christian police officer in Katsina state was clubbed to death by a mob of Muslims after being accused of trampling a Koran. The police officer had warned a Muslim preacher to stop inciting violence against Christians. Afraid of being arrested, the preacher fabricated the Koran story to provoke the crowd. (Compass)
June 2002 – Christians in Plateau state have become targets of Islamic extremism in recent weeks. Several villages have been attacked, including Yelwa Shendam, Wase, Berakin Ladi, Vom and Miango. Four people were killed and 20 injured in one village near Jos. Christians in Wase were forced to flee their homes and it was reported that no church building was left standing. At least 1,000 Christians have become refugees as a result of these attacks. (CSW)
May-June, 2002 – At least 75 Christians were arrested in Niger state for opposing the state’s Islamic sharia law. (Compass)
May 2002 – The whereabouts of two Christians being charged with apostasy is unknown (see April 2002 below). Lawali Yakubu and Ali Jafaru disappeared after a judge refused to sentence them to death. It is believed that an Islamic monitoring group has decided to take the law into their own hands. (Compass)
April 8-22, 2002 – At least seven churches in Kano State were destroyed by authorities. There is a growing trend in states that have accepted Sharia law to destroy Christian churches on the pretense that the churches have violated building codes. Christians believe it is a step toward wiping out the Christian faith in northern Nigeria. (Compass)
April 2002 – Two Christians in Zamfara State are being tried on the charge of apostasy, converting from Islam to Christianity. According to Islamic law, the penalty for apostasy is death, though it is unclear whether state law makes this applicable or not. However, the two Christians, Lawali Yakubu and Ali Jafaru, claim they were never Muslims to start with. The two belong to a sub-division of the predominately Muslim Hausa ethnic group that has practiced Christianity for many years. (Ananova)
March 7, 2002 – Gunmen stormed a Christian prayer meeting in Enugu, leading to a stampede that killed at least 12 people dead. It is believed the gunmen were targeting Roman Catholic priest, Ejike Mbaka, who regularly led the prayer meeting. (Charisma)
February 27, 2002 – Muslims in Ilorin turned violent while celebrating Eid-el-Kabir and began attacking Christians. Three Christians were killed in the violence. The Muslims demanded the implementation of Sharia in Kwara State. (Compass)
February 2002 – The Kano state government revealed that they had closed down 122 Christian schools for failing to meet state requirements. The requirement in question is the compulsory study of Islam. Christian schools have refused to allow Muslim clerics in to their schools, thus risking closure. (Compass)
February 24, 2002 – Christian Esther Bulus was kidnapped from her school by four Muslims who slit her throat and left her to die. Esther had refused to marry a politician in Gombi because he was Muslim. The man is believed to have arranged her murder. (Compass)
January 2002 – Two churches in Zamfara state were closed after the state government decided there were “too many churches.” The first state to introduce Islamic Sharia law, Zamfara has also marked out 14 other churches for future closure and destruction. The churches already closed were the Anglican Church in Kaura Namoda and the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Anka. (Compass)
December 30, 2001 – Armed Muslims attacked the Christian community of Vwang in southern Jos, killing five people and destroying property worth several thousand dollars. In retaliation Christians from neighboring communities began to attack Muslim villages. As a result of the clashes at least two dozen people died and many were displaced from their homes. (Compass)
December 24, 2001 – Muslim army soldiers from the 23rd Armored 7Brigade in Yola City, Adamawa State, burned a Christian church building, which was constructed in the army barracks. They justified the act by saying it was an illegal structure. However, the army officially allows both Islam and Christianity to be practiced in the barracks. The church is being rebuilt. (Compass)
December 10, 2001 – Truck driver Uche Nwama was killed for allowing the exhaust from his truck to drift into an open-air Islamic meeting. Islamic militants claimed the exhaust had desecrated the Quran. (Compass)
October 14-18 – As a result of anti-American protests in Kano, 600 Christians are missing and another 350 were killed. At least five churches were burned during the resulting riots. (Compass)
October 7, 2001 – Muslim youths assaulted three churches and 10 Christian-owned shops outfited with gas bombs, in the city of Kaduna, setting fire to the buildings. (CWN)
September 7-17, 2001 – Seven churches have been demolished, six churches set ablaze, fifty-four churches given demolition notices, and seventeen churches demolished by the government, in the Kano state, northern Nigeria. The government stated all churches in Shagari Quarters of Kano city were “illegal structures,” probably due to the religious conflict in Jos and the rumored future adoption of Shari’a law. (Compass)
September 12, 2001 – In the city of Jos, more than 500 have been killed in violence between Muslims and Christians since September 7, 2001. 900 were injured as rival gangs of Muslims and Christians roamed the streets and attacked members of other communities, burning both mosques and churches. James Alalade, a pastor of a burnt church in Kano, told Reuters, “They (youths) just came in with their weapons and petrol in cans and asked everybody out before setting the church ablaze. Nobody could stop them, they were heavily armed.” (Crosswalk)
August 5, 2001 – According to the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), the government of Bauchi state has been using Muslim mercenaries to attack Christians in the Tafawa Balewa and Bogora areas, on two occasions, June 18th and August 5th. COCIN said, “Three vehicles have been intercepted, loaded with warriors and weapons entering the conflict areas… This has resulted in many deaths and widespread destruction.” The attacks have left more than 100 dead and 5,000 refugees. (Compass)
bullet August 2001 – Ambrose Lar, a Christian worker at the Ahmadu Bellow University in Zaria, Kaduna State was arrested and detained for seven days because of a prayer. In a union meeting, Lar was asked to pray about the problems of the institution. In the prayer he asked for God’s wrath on those who denied Christians basic religious rights. Abdullahi Mahdi, the vice chancellor of the university ordered the arrest of Lar. Lar was released after the university workers went on strike on his behalf.
bullet June 2001 – Fifteen churches and 14 pastor’s residences were burned down in Gawaram, Jigawa state. No one was hurt in the fires, but the pastors and their families are now homeless. A similar attack on 11 churches occurred earlier in the year in the Hajaya governate. Jigawa state is one of many northern Nigerian states that has implemented Sharia law.
February 24-25, 2001 – A visit to Gombe state by an Israeli ambassador sparked a riot by Muslim youths. During the riot at least 4 people were killed, 50 were injured, and two churches were damaged. The Calvary Baptist Church and the Bishara Baptist Church were both robbed and pews from the latter church were ripped out and burned.
November 2000 – Christians showing the Jesus Film in Kebbi state were warned not to continue showing the film. Kebbi also plans to adopt Sharia law on December 1, 2000.
September 7-9, 2000 – In Bambam, Gombe state 25 people died as a result of clashes between Muslims and Christians due to the possible implementation of Sharia. Property damage was estimated in the millions of dollars.
August 2000 – Another three northern states declared Sharia law, in direct contradiction to Nigeria’s current Constitution. These states are Katsina, Jigawa and Borno.
July 10, 2000 – In Sokoto state an 80-year-old Christian woman was sentenced to six months imprisonment for brewing an alcoholic beverage. Drinking and selling alcohol is contrary to the state’s Sharia law.
June 21, 2000 – Kano state adopted Sharia law. Sharia will officially be implemented on November 26, the first day of Ramadan.
June 2000 – Mrs. Laraba John, a widow, was the first Christian to receive punishment under Sharia law in Niger state. Mrs. Johns was sentenced to 3 months in prison for brewing a local alcoholic beverage. Though she has seven children and no husband, the court refused to grant leniency.
May 2000 – Christian women in Zamfara state say they were harassed and wrongfully accused of prostitution.
May 29, 2000 – Sokoto state declared Sharia law.
May 25, 2000 – Several days of violence in Kaduna have led to the death of at least 150 people. Homes, shops and churches have also been destroyed.
May 22, 2000 – Muslim youths torched the First Baptist Church and Christian homes in Kaduna, leading to retaliation by Christian youths. At least 11 people died and many others were injured in the incident.
May 16, 2000 – Muslim youths destroyed the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Kaduna only hours after peacekeeping troops left the area.
February 28, 2000 – The bodies of Christians killed in Kaduna (see Feb 21-22 below) were returned to southern Nigeria, setting off more violence. At least 50 people in Aba and another dozen in Umuahia were stabbed or clubbed to death.
February 21-22, 2000 – Riots began after a Christian march opposing the implementation of Sharia law in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. Christian and Muslim gangs armed with sticks set up roadblocks to hunt down rivals. Travelers were killed as they tried to escape their vehicles. More than 1,000 people died in various clashes.
December 18-19, 1999 – Islamic extremists vandalized or destroyed 18 churches in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State in north-central Nigeria. Christian leaders have threatened to retaliate if the state government does not stop the violence.
October 8, 1999 – Zamfara State is the first state to impose Islamic Sharia law. The House of Assembly approved legislation to implement Sharia beginning on October 27.
July/August, 1999 — The government in Kano state announced its plans to destroy around 150 churches that it claims were built without government permission. Christians protested this decision towards the end of July claiming discrimination, as Muslims don’t have to undergo the same treatment. Hostilities between the Christian and Muslim communities in this state have resulted in more than 100 deaths and the destruction of millions of dollars of property.
Ongoing – Christian victims of religious clashes that took place in Kaduna in February and May of 2000 are living in squalid conditions in refugee camps across the state. The camps have inadequate medical care, sanitation, and food. The state has done little to help the victims and claims they will not be compensated for what they lost during the two bloody clashes in which an estimated 875 Christians were killed. Many people have already died in the camps due to poor conditions.