Christian persecution in the most populous African nation has escalated in 2021.
Christians in Nigeria are experiencing new levels of persecution in 2021. In just the first half of the year the African nation has seen 3,462 Christians reportedly “hacked to death” by Islamic extremists. The number only trails the 2020 total of Christians murdered in Nigeria by 68. It is estimated that 17 Christians are killed in Nigeria every day.
According to a report by Intersociety, a human rights group that monitors such Nigerian atrocities, the persecution has only intensified in the last 80 days. From May 1 to July 18, no less than 1,992 Christians have been murdered. Figures presented by Intersociety suggest that 2021 may surpass 2014, which saw over 5,000 Christians killed.
Alongside a rise in recorded murders is a steep climb in abductions. Since January 2021, it is estimated that 3,000 Christians have been kidnapped. Of these, the report notes, it is likely that 1 in 10 have died, which adds another 300 to the death toll. The report also tacks on an additional 150 to the number in order to account for “dark figures,” or unreported and undiscovered murders.
Churches have been unable to offer sanctuary, as they have been targeted by extremists as well. The number of churches that have been attacked, closed, or destroyed this year stands at around 300. Among these were no less than 10 instances where the parish priest was killed or abducted.
One of the most distressing parts of the dire report was found in the complicity of the Nigerian authorities. The report noted that surviving families of victims are offered no support from the government. In fact, in the North, security forces seems to support the jihadists actions, offering “cover and support” that allows for unfettered murder, abduction, forced conversion, and destruction.
“It is deeply saddening that till date those responsible for the anti Christian butcheries in the country have continued to evade justice and remained unchecked, untracked, uninvestigated and untried; leading to impunity and repeat-atrocities.”
Intersociety, or The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, is a research and investigative rights group which has been monitoring and investigating religious persecution across Nigeria since 2010. They source information from direct contact with victims, eyewitnesses, media tracking, review of credible local and international reports, interviews and closed sources and more.