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‘Christians Bleeding’ – The Jihadi War Against Africa’s Christians

The escalating persecution of Christians in Africa threatens all Christians on the continent, including the Orthodox Christian communities in Nigeria, Kenya and elsewhere.

The Order once again calls upon the UN and international human rights organizations, as well as the governments of the nations listed in this article and others where Christians are persecuted, to take effective action to protect Christians and bring a definitive end to this persecution. Meanwhile, please continue to pray for the safety of the Christians in Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, and all over Africa.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Africa and elsewhere, as well as the imminent disappearance of Christianity from some of its ancient strongholds, see here.

“‘Christians Bleeding’ – The Jihadi War Against Africa’s Christians,” by Alberto Fernandez, MEMRI, June 16, 2023:

It is a sad reality that in our very wide, diverse, and heavily populated world, not all news is treated the same. The passions and controversies of the West, especially those of the United States of America, consume much of the world’s media bandwidth. In 2020, Europeans were perhaps shocked to see angry demonstrations on their streets because an American policeman in the distant state of Minnesota killed a suspect. The foreign enthusiasms of the West also get banner coverage worldwide. If Ukraine becomes the great Western cause of the moment, then all the world is expected to follow along.

Africa has occasionally gotten this Western attention, usually for limited periods of time. The years 1983-1984 saw Band Aid, triggered by the famine in Ethiopia. Twenty years ago, Save Darfur was briefly a thing among the chattering classes in the West. Eleven years ago, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) warlord Joseph Kony became a thing even more briefly, as a slick American social media campaign sought to bring him to justice. The video produced for it garnered over a hundred million views on YouTube and was the first video to ever receive a million “likes.” Kony is reportedly still alive, last reputed to be in Sudan, but no one talks about him anymore.

But just because the West ignores a reality doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. There was a time when the jihadi terrorist group Islamic State, or ISIS, was on the front pages, with spectacular acts of mayhem not only in the Middle East but in Europe and elsewhere. But after a string of military reverses, and especially after ISIS lost its last major stronghold in Syria in the spring of 2019, it too seemed to drop from the headlines.

However, neither ISIS nor Al-Qaeda are done; nor is Salafi-jihadism in general. They have found new pastures in Africa, especially along those geographic fault lines that divide the continent’s majority Muslim-populated regions from its Christian population. Like a bloody scarlet thread, this line stretches across West Africa into the middle of Nigeria and then into Central Africa, until reaching the Indian Ocean coast from Somalia to Mozambique. As always, jihadism takes advantage of local fissures and on the ground realities – ethnic conflict, land grabs, government corruption and incompetence – but a pillar of the ideology is the slaughter of Christians.

The January 2022 issue of the ISIS weekly “Al-Naba” featured an article titled “Christians Bleeding,” and a pro-ISIS propaganda Telegram channel boasted later of the establishment of a new ISIS province in Mozambique built “on heaps of Christian corpses and rivers of their blood.”

MEMRI’s new, lengthy, and detailed report on ISIS in Africa’s targeting of Christians is grim, if essential reading, done with MEMRI’s characteristic comprehensiveness. What we have here is a steady, slow-motion, constant campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing, waged one village and ramshackle church and peasant family at a time. The result is devastating and horrific in its scope when this mass of individual outrages is collated, analyzed, and translated in one place, as we have here.

And as devastating as this report is, the situation is even worse, given that there have been other actions targeting African Christians from ISIS’s rivals in Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab, in addition to the permanent campaign of targeted killings and burning carried out by Islamist Fulani militias in countries like Nigeria.

This report focuses on ISCAP (ISIS’s Central African Province), ISWAP (Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries) and ISMP (ISIS in Mozambique) which are main perpetrators. But they are not the only ones.

The killing mechanism is no doubt influenced by local circumstances, but even more so influenced by radical ideology. The extremist narrative is that these – local Christians – are the people who can be killed and targeted with impunity. Nigeria alone has the phenomenon of almajiri boys, children given over by their families to be raised and indoctrinated by primitive religious schools teaching rote memorization of the Qur’an and nothing else. These schoolboys are expected to beg in the streets for their upkeep. The result is a large pool of destitute, alienated, and ignorant boys seen as fit only for menial work, gangs, or jihad.

In 2012, the National Council for the Welfare of the Destitute in Nigeria estimated that there were about seven million almajiri boys in Northern Nigeria. Many may not even become jihadi gunmen, but will become part of a permanent disenfranchised underclass that can be weaponized by crooked politicians, criminal networks, and extremist organizations. And this is not unique to Nigeria, but is a situation existing throughout much of West and Central Africa.

ISIS videos in 2022 not only gloried in the killing of Christians and the destruction of their property and churches, but also in showing kidnapped Christian villagers being forcibly converted to Islam. Our adversary sees this campaign in ideological, Islamic supremacist terms most of all….

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