Fulani Muslim attacks on Christians in Nigeria have risen significantly since the country imposed a coronavirus lockdown on March 30 and scores of Christian farmers have been killed, according to a September 8 report.
“The middle belt region, which produces a large percentage of the country’s food for domestic consumption and export, has been affected most,” writes Nigerian journalist Patrick Egwu from Johannesburg.
In July, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) warned of “a sustained campaign of violence targeting farming communities” in parts of the middle belt, “which has been ongoing since January 2020, and which has seen a particular surge during July.”
CSW also revealed that as of May 15, Muslim assailants had killed 59 Christians and burnt down 155 homes, leaving hundreds of area people displaced.
The killing has continued and even increased during the summer. On August 10, some 20 gunmen stormed the village of Edikwu in Nigeria’s Benue state, killing at least 13 people and burning homes. In early September, several more villages were attacked and more than 10 people were killed.
“When this happens, the police go there, but before they arrive, the attackers have already disappeared,” said Paul Tekina, a villager in Benue State.
On August 22, Crux, a U.S.-based Catholic news outlet, declared that Nigeria is becoming the “biggest killing ground of Christians in the world” due to attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani militants, according to reports by International Christian Concern (ICC). The charity estimates that between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians have been killed by radical Islamists in the West African country over the last decade.
When Fulani militants “attack these farming villages, they often burn down churches, kill pastors, and destroy Christians homes and shops,” noted Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa. “I have never heard of a mosque being destroyed or imam being killed during these attacks, so there is a clear sign that they at least hate Christianity, if they are not blatantly targeting Christians.”
Last December, the Wall Street Journal published a disturbing report in which French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote that Islamist Fulani militants are waging a brutal war on Nigeria’s Christians in a campaign to rid the country’s middle belt of non-Muslims.
Fulani radicals now pose a greater threat than the Islamic terror group Boko Haram, Lévy wrote, and they carry out systematic attacks on Christians involving burning, raping, maiming, pillaging, and killing.
This “slow-motion war” against Nigeria’s Christians is “massive in scale and horrific in brutality,” he wrote, and yet “the world has hardly noticed.”
While mainstream media normally often the attacks on Christians as ethnically or economically motivated, this description is false, Lévy insisted, the work of “professional disinformers.”
“They are Islamic extremists of a new stripe,” said a Nigerian NGO director interviewed by Lévy, “more or less linked with Boko Haram.”