Tuesday, November 22, 2016

RLPB 385. Nigeria: Church Bleeds Under Fulani Jihad

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 385 | Wed 23 Nov 2016

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plus Indonesia Update: Ahok to face court
by Elizabeth Kendal

Fulani cattleman with his herd
During the later half of the 20th Century, modernisation and environmental factors such as drought and desertification left many Fulani and Hausa Muslims struggling to maintain their traditional, nomadic way of life. While many abandoned cattle grazing and migrated into the cities in search of work, others still lead their cattle south in search of food and water. The situation has put immense strain on Nigeria's ethno-religious 'fault-line', where Fulani Muslim 'settlers' from the north and southern Christian 'indigenes' now compete for land, water, jobs and political power. For decades, successive northern Muslim military dictators empowered the Fulani. In today's democratic Nigeria, Muslim fundamentalists -- political leaders, military personnel and Islamic jihadists -- back the Fulani and use them as proxies to expand Islamic territory at the expense of local Christians, a record number of whom are now displaced. The seemingly endless violence perpetrated by Muslim Fulani against Christian indigenous communities across the 'fault-line' and ever deeper into the south needs to be understood in the context of predatory migration, ethno-religious cleansing and classic imperialistic Islamic jihad.

Kaduna -- one of Nigeria's twelve Sharia states -- sits in Nigeria's volatile Middle Belt with Fulani Muslims in the north, Christian tribes in the south and its divided capital straddling the ethno-religious fault-line. On the evening of Sunday 13 November Fulani herdsmen besieged and attacked five villages -- Kigam, Kitakum, Unguwan Magaji, Unguwan Rimi and Kizipi -- in Chawai Chiefdom in Kauru Local Government Area (LGA) in Southern Kaduna, about 300 km south-east of the Kaduna metropolis. Armed with guns, knives, machetes and explosives, the Fulani killed 45 mostly women, children and elderly Christian residents while wounding dozens more and displacing thousands. Numerous vehicles and over 120 houses (including eight house-churches) were looted and torched. [Photos (graphic)]

According to local eyewitnesses, a Fulani herdsman named Haruna had approached a local farmer in September, requesting permission to graze his cattle on his land. The farmer refused, explaining that he had just finished preparing the land for planting yam in October. Despite this, the cattleman moved his cattle in and even built huts on the farmer's land. Reluctant simply to submit and surrender his land, the farmer eventually called the police who intervened to remove the cattleman and his herd. When the cattleman subsequently returned, local youths chased him away. That was when the Fulani decided to ethnically cleanse the whole area.

Frustrated by the endless carnage, the Chairman of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Solomon Musa, reiterated calls for the establishment of a military base in Southern Kaduna. 'It has now become abundantly clear,' he said, 'to even the worst sceptics, that Southern Kaduna has become a killing field where genocide is taking place unabated.' Most analysts would concur with Musa's analysis that powerful people are sponsoring terrorists to eliminate people.

Church leaders accuse the government of not giving enough attention to security. It is just as the Reverend Zachariah Gado of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) explains: there is a 'well-funded, organised and executed campaign not only to make life unbearable for the entire Southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani herdsmen militia.' Whole Christian communities are disappearing, being replaced with Fulani Muslims. The Church is bleeding under this Fulani jihad.

ECWA press conference, 16 Nov 2016 (image source: World Watch Monitor).
For more details on the press conference, and a link to
 the ECWA statement, see Christian Solidarity Worldwide.


* draw very near to the Christians in Southern Kaduna -- in particular (at this time) those in and displaced from Kaura LGA -- as they struggle against fear and despair, and against temptations to hate, to retaliate, and to doubt; may the Lord draw them close and lift their heads, that they will look to him for comfort, justice and security. May the devil have no victory here! May divine grace prove effective as a healer and as a witness.

'But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.' (Psalm 3:3 ESV)

* influence the government of Nigeria, in particular President Muhammadu Buhari and Kaduna Governor Nasir el-Rufai, convicting and energising them to act decisively to:
strengthen security in Christian regions;
crack down on the illegal activities of the Fulani; and
smash the nexus between the Fulani cattle herders, the Islamic militants, rogue Muslims in the military, and powerful Muslim fundamentalist figures (clerics and politicians) with Islamic imperialist ambitions.


Security is failing in Kaduna, a volatile Sharia state which straddles Nigeria's ethno-religious 'fault-line'. On the evening of Sunday 13 November Fulani Muslims besieged and attacked five villages in Kauru Local Government Area in predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna. Armed with guns, knives, machetes and explosives, the Fulani killed 45 mostly women, children and elderly Christian residents while wounding dozens more and displacing thousands. Numerous vehicles and over 120 houses (including eight house-churches) were torched. Frustrated by the endless carnage, Christian leaders have reiterated the call for more security, including the establishment of a military base in Southern Kaduna. The organised ethno-religious cleansing taking place must be seen in the context of classic Islamic jihad. With whole Christian communities erased, the Church is bleeding. Please pray for Nigeria and for its Church.


INDONESIA: Update to RLPB 383 (9 Nov 2016)

On Wednesday 16 November police named Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama as a blasphemy suspect, confirming that the case against him will proceed to court. Police are currently working to complete Ahok's case dossier so the trial -- which will be open to the public and televised live -- can commence. Now that Ahok has been named, Islamic fundamentalists are demanding he be arrested and incarcerated as is the tradition in Indonesia. Islamic leaders are organising rallies for Fridays 25 November and 2 December to protest against Ahok's freedom. Police have vowed to disperse any protests that block streets or cause disruptions. This is a watershed moment for Indonesia, as well as for Ahok, whose life, liberty and future are on the line.


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com