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Advocates for persecuted Christians in Nigeria question U.S. report that portrays Fulani as victims

Burned vehicles after Good Friday raid on April 7, 2023, in Ngban, Benue state, Nigeria. / Courtesy of Justice, Development, and Peace Commission

St. Louis, Mo., May 2, 2023 / 07:25 am (CNA).

Advocates for persecuted Christians in Nigeria are criticizing a new report prepared by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that they say ignores the many documented atrocities perpetrated against Christians by the Fulani ethnic group in Nigeria and instead paints the Fulani as persecuted victims.

The April 27 report prepared by USCIRF — a nonpartisan federal body — asserts that Fulani civilians have been subjected to “xenophobic sentiment” because “Christian communities often equate Fulani Muslims with Salafi jihadist beliefs because of their Muslim identity.” The report goes on to say that “abuses have led some members of Fulani communities to arm themselves and conduct reprisal attacks based on ethnoreligious identity,” with the result being that “Christian communities across Nigeria are threatened by deadly attacks from vengeful assailants seeking retribution for grievances against Fulani Muslim civilians.”

The Fulani are an ethnic group that occupies a large area of the African continent stretching from Senegal to Sudan. They are nomadic and largely share a language, Muslim faith, and a history of livestock herding. Jihadist Muslim groups, such as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks on the country’s Christians. But myriad other attacks attributed to Fulani herdsmen on Christians in Nigeria, especially in the north of the country, have been reported in recent years. The current president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, is of Fulani ancestry, and there is widespread evidence that Fulanis have been largely able to carry out their attacks with impunity.

Advocates for persecuted Christians strongly disagreed with the USCIRF report’s assertion that the numerous attacks attributed to the Fulani in recent years on Christians in the country are retaliatory.

Sean Nelson, legal counsel for the U.S.-based Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA that the USCIRF report “fails to explain the broader context of religiously motivated violence against Christians, where they are suffering thousands of deaths every year because of their faith.”

“The report is needlessly polarizing in an area that requires great sensitivity,” Nelson said.

“The international religious freedom community would benefit from an explanation as to how the report was produced and approved, and USCIRF should consider a retraction. It is vital that the international religious freedom community is able to come together to advocate for those in Nigeria who have been so regularly and grievously victimized.”

Nelson said the report appears to fault the Christian community for the marginalization of the Fulanis while failing to acknowledge the brutal persecution the Christians of Nigeria are facing, often at Fulani hands.

“The report rightly speaks against using an overly broad brush when discussing the Fulani Muslim community and militancy within it, but then proceeds to imply with false moral equivalency and little evidence that the broader Christian community is responsible for large portions of the violence,” he noted.

Nina Shea, senior fellow and director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, called for USCIRF to prepare and release a report “giving the other side,” chronicling Nigerian Christian persecution.

Shea noted to CNA that a new report from the Kukah Center, a Nigeria-based policy research institute founded by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Diocese of Sokoto, contradicts USCIRF’s claim that Fulani attacks on Christians — especially in the north-central part of the country — are retaliatory and are rather a form of terror aimed at displacing Christians from their land.

The report includes detailed accounts from eyewitnesses about attacks on civilians suspected to have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen — many of which do not bear the hallmarks of retaliatory attacks but rather seem to be aimed at terrorizing the Christian community. The Kukah report also notes that since the beginning of 2022, at least 18 Catholic priests have been abducted by armed Fulani bandits across the country, with 80% of these abductions occurring in Northwest Nigeria.

USCIRF, for its part, released on Monday its annual report, which included the recommendation that Nigeria be listed by the U.S. State Department as a “Country of Particular Concern” a designation that USCIRF has recommended for Nigeria since 2009. The report decries “rampant violence and atrocities” committed across Nigeria, including by militant Islamist groups and “dynamic alliances of insurgent, criminal, and vigilante actors.”

CNA reached out to USCIRF for comment on the April Fulani report but did not receive a response by press time.

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  1. This administration has an unwritten policy of withholding justice from any institution, organization that it perceives hostile to its concept of amoral inclusiveness. Catholicism fits that perception of hostility to our administration’s unethical ideology. Evident in reticence to protect Catholic institutions, churches and refusal to prosecute violations.
    If it refuses to recognize domestic prejudicial policy here, it is prone to follow similar pattern abroad. Nigeria, an example of that refusal in our administration’s construing a false narrative of Muslim [here Fulani] murders of Christians as retaliatory self protection.
    Marxist elitists control government in America, the Catholic Church a primary target, and undoubtedly recognized as the last coherent barrier to that Antichrist ideology and its stranglehold on a once democratic justice oriented nation. A government unrelenting in indoctrination of its deranged morals on the public, and its control of an allied media in which there’s collusion in disseminating lies and propaganda, filtering knowledge of undesirable content, that is, the truth. Our giant media platforms have decided what information the public may receive. We’re in the midst of a political ideological sea change, dangerous times in, should I say our once constitutional republic [see James Kalb’s essay Are the Marxists on to something?].

  2. Its funny but all the reports of kidnapped school girls, wholesale murder of christian communities,murdered priests, have ALL been conducted by MUSLIMS, NOT the Christian minority. I dont know what the report means that the Christians have “marginalized” the Fulani. If it means they dont want to associate with people who have a proven inclination to kill them, I say “so what?” The US long ago fingered Muslims as an “oppressed” minority. Like the Palestinians. Hence the DEMs unreliable and conflicted support for Israel.The Muslims are never held accountable for their aggressive and violent actions. The situation in Nigeria is simply more of the same hypocrisy. But then, those of us who are honest with ourselves have known for a very long time that DEMs are no friends of Christianity. And would never come down hard on one of their favorite “woke” demographics. Not even when their guilt is undeniable beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  3. When Allah gives the Muslim permission to lie about islam (in the Koran no less), this is what we see! Never ending war is the aim of Islam. It demonstrates Allah’s weakness that the battle is waged by the Muslim himself. Allah says fighting and killing is the way into his idea of “paradise”. Yet, if Allah encourages the Muslim to lie, what does it say about his own veracity?

    The God of the Bible tells the followers to respect others lives, to be honest, worshiping God in spirit and truth.

    1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    Romans 5:1-21 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. …

    Romans 3:11 No one understands; no one seeks for God.

    Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Dear Muslim come and learn about Jesus Christ. He waits to bless you with truth and eternal life through belief in Him.

    John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

    John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

    Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  4. “The situation in Nigeria is simply more of the same hypocrisy. But then, those of us who are honest with ourselves have known for a very long time that DEMs are no friends of Christianity.” – LJ.

    Thank you, LJ. President Biden, once again, is following in the footsteps of others. Even his predecessor, Barak Obama (of course, Biden was part of it), invited the Fulani Jihadists into the White House for a never published discussion. The slaughtering of Christians is ongoing but would never make headline news. The State Department has daily records of these atrocities. It is pathetic to see a Christian Nation aiding and abetting Muslim nations committing these killings of Christians, especially in third-world countries.
    The Fulani remains the aggressor, the last ethnicity to occupy the present British fraud called Nigeria. Using the name of religion, they kill at will to take over indigenous lands and never get arrested, talk less prosecuted. Christians in Nigeria have been wailing for years, but no one hears their cries. As a Biafran of the Igbo ethnicity, we have made several attempts to get The White House and others to listen in vain. So everyone is simply waiting a recurrence of the Rwanda debacle.
    There are more than one million tax-paying Biafrans here in the United States. These Biafrans were forced to abandon their homes because of incursions of the Muslims Jihadists. You may not find more than one thousand Fulanis here. Yet our tax money is being sent to the Fulani Jihadists government of Nigeria by the United States in the form of weapons. The same weapons that the Fulani is using against the Christians.
    Christians in Nigeria are losing faith in Christianity as Christians globally stay mute of their Muslim aggressors.
    Please note that the 100-year experiment of 1914 forced Amalgamation of the different (nations) ethnicities known as Nigeria by the British, expired in 2014. These incompatible different nations have asked for a peaceful separation in vain. The Fulani are the footsoldiers used in keeping the fraud called Nigeria together. The timed bomb called Nigeria may explode anytime, and human devastations may not be quickly solved.

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