Bernard-Henri Lévy provides eyewitness testimony to killing, raping and mutilation by Fulani herdsmen.
“Will history be repeated in Nigeria?” Lévy asks, referring to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, at the end of a long article in the French magazine Paris Match. “Will we wait, as usual, for the disaster to be consumed in order to be moved? And will we remain idly by while the Islamist international, contained in Asia, fought in Europe, defeated in Syria and Iraq, opens a new front on this immense land where the sons of Abraham coexisted for a long time? This is what is at stake on this journey to the heart of the Nigerian darkness.”
Lévy describes Christians he met in Nigeria and the mutilations they suffered from attacking Fulani herdsmen. In Godogodo, Kaduna State, he filmed the testimony of a young evangelist, Jumai Victor, who is missing an arm. The Fulanis came into her town at night on motorcycles, shouting “Allahu akbar!”
“They burned the houses,” he said. “Killed [a man’s] four children before his eyes. And, when [Jumai’s] turn came and they saw that she was pregnant, and a discussion started: some people did not want to see the event and we just cut her arm, with a machete, like the butcher: first the fingers; then the hand; then the forearm; and then the rest.”
Lévy had some difficulty traveling through areas where Fulani seemed to be in control. At one point, a man told him he “had nothing to do here.” Lévy found out that he was Turkish, and a member of a network of “religious mutual aid” funded by Qatar and responsible for opening madrasas, or religious schools, in the northern and central localities.
He said that the “bishop of Jos,” without naming him, “had his animals stolen three times. … The third time, [he] was dragged into his room, put in play and owed his salvation only to his faith (he threw himself on his knees and began to pray, eyes closed, voice very high, until the sound of a helicopter covered his prayer and chased the attackers).” This bishop told Lévy that the attacks appear more and more to be a “methodical ethnic and religious cleansing.”
“Before we can barricade or flee, they are in the houses, machining, running towards the cries at night, looking for pregnant women, burning, looting, raping,” the bishop said. “They don’t necessarily kill everyone. At one point, they stop. They recite an occasional surah, gather the frightened animals and leave as they came, very quickly. … There must be living people left to tell. Witnesses must remain to say, in the villages, that the Fulanis are capable of anything and fear only God.”
Lévy met with 17 Christian community leaders in the city of Abuja and confirmed the modus operandi described by the bishop of Jos. They also said that local mosques are “radicalized by the Muslim Brotherhood and multiplying just as churches burn down.
In a Fulani village near Abuja, he was stopped by a local. “What are you doing here?” he challenges him. He is a teenager “who has appeared out of nowhere and dressed in a T-shirt with a swastika,” Levy says. The boy taunts him, saying, “Do you take advantage of the fact that it is Friday and that we are at the mosque to come and spy on our women? It’s punished in the Koran!”
“As I ask him if having a swastika on his chest is not, also, contrary to the teachings of the Koran, he marks a moment of embarrassment,” the Frenchman counters.
In Lagos, he overhears someone named Abdallah complaining “There are too many Christians in Lagos. Christians are dogs and sons of dogs. You say Christians. But, for us, they are traitors. They took the religion of the Whites. There is no room here for the friends of white people, these unclean people.”
“There remains the terrible feeling, at the end of this journey, of having gone back in time,” Levy laments, citing 2007, when the horsemen of Khartoum were sowing death in the villages of Darfur; or, before that, in South Sudan, when the death of John Garang had not yet signaled the Islamists’ total war against the Christians; or even earlier, in Rwanda, in those days of spring 1994 when no one wanted to believe that the fourth genocide of the 20th century was underway.”
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