Nigerian Christians murdered, left homeless by organized Muslim attack
December 12, 2008
The following report was received by Christian Aid from a native missionary living in Jos, Nigeria.
|Christian Aid has received this news update from native missionaries living inside of Jos. Most reports of this situation by secular media contain skewed information, received directly from the Nigerian government. This information includes false claims that Christians attacked and killed Muslims, and vastly underestimates the damage done to Christian lives and property. In reality, Muslims plotted an attack on Jos Christians days before the election results were announced. The majority of Muslims who died during the incident were killed by government soldiers ordered to fire at will to contain the violence.|
"Unknown to me and the other believers living in Jos [farming city located high on Plateau State in central Nigeria], Muslim terrorists from surrounding states had quietly infiltrated the city days before the November 27 election of the local council.
"They knew, just as we did, that the Christian-backed People’s Democratic Party would win.
"And they were ready with their guns and machetes to murder our families and burn our homes because of the votes we cast.
"The Muslim Hausa ethnic group, which dominates northern Jos, had sent for Muslim mercenaries from surrounding states in Nigeria to inconspicuously enter Jos with weapons and mock military uniforms to attack us if the election did not go their way.
"Our Muslim government was aware that people were being brought into Jos from neighboring states, but did not warn us of the danger.
"Early the next morning, Friday, November 28, screams and gunshots filled the air, as these terrorists slaughtered Christians and burned churches, homes and businesses. More than 30 churches were torched, many with people inside.
"Hundreds were killed. The stench of the corpses was overwhelming, as dead bodies were pulled from the charred remains of buildings and cars and piled into trucks or ambulances for mass burial.
"More than 7,000 of us fled from our homes. Christians are living inside of hospitals, churches and police stations—some are hiding in the forests.
"By the evening of Saturday, November 29, government troops were ordered to arrest offenders and shoot on sight. The majority of Muslims who died during the chaos were involved in clashes with police and security forces, many of whom fired at civilians.
"All government officials sent to Jos to help contain the crisis are Muslims, including the army chief, who is overseeing security in Jos. This has added to our fears of continued attacks on Christians."
Christian Aid can provide help for these suffering believers through Missionary Crusader’s Ministry. MCM urgently needs to provide blankets ($15), bedding ($60) and generators ($600). Funds in any amount for food, medicine, temporary shelter and rebuilding homes and churches are also needed. Donations to Christian Aid should be designated 550MCM-for victims of violence.
Background of religious tension in Jos
Nigeria is well known for its longstanding ethnic and religious tension between the feudalistic, Islamic north and the entrepreneurial, Christian south. Jos is located along the religious fault-line in what is known as the Middle Belt, a stretch of fertile land between the two regions, where many towns and villages contain both Muslims and Christians.
Most of Plateau State’s original inhabitants come from tribes that are almost entirely Christian or animist, but the green farmland pastures have attracted Muslim Hausa and Fulani people from the north. This ethnic and religious mix has proved devastating to Jos.
In 2001, more than 1,000 people died in a religious riot. The following year, a dispute over a perceived insult to Islam during a beauty pageant led to riots in which hundreds died. In 2004, an estimated 700 people died in Plateau State during Christian-Muslim clashes. In 2006, riots over Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad led to the deaths of nearly 200 people.
Constitutionally, Nigeria is a secular state with freedom of religion. Yet, for nearly 40 years following the country’s independence from Britain in 1960, the northern ruling elite favored Muslims and persecuted Christians. Muslims have successfully instituted Shariah law in 12 Nigerian states. Muslim president, Umaru Yar'adua, took office in May 2007.