More than 1,000 Christians were killed in Nigeria in 2019, mostly by radical Islamists, according to the report Your Land or Your Blood by the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). The violence was so intense that it prompted Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) to write an open letter to President Trump, urging him to send a special envoy to Nigeria.
“Today, a large majority of the Fulani cattle-herders have been radicalized [by Al-Qaida] and have, along with Boko Haram, been supported and provided with weapons by those seeking the complete Islamization of Nigeria,” the STPC wrote to President Trump.
Nigerian Christians are under constant harassment and threat of death, according to HART’s report. Jihadist groups regularly attack rural villages and take hostages, which they extort for ransom and force into sex slavery. HART estimated that 6,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria and 12,000 displaced since 2015.
The violence has been particularly bad in North and Central Nigeria. "Islamist Fulani militia continue to engage in an aggressive and strategic land grabbing policy,” the HART’s report reads. "They attack rural villages, force villagers off their lands and settle in their place.”
"What is afoot in Nigeria is jihad. It's a concerted, systematic, organized and increasingly genocidal effort to remove from Nigeria…Christians who are by definition under the Sharia...seen as enemies of Islam and people that can be eliminated or otherwise removed at will,” said STPC President and CEO Frank Gaffney, according to CBN News.
“In recent years, entire Christian villages have been wiped out by jihadists of Boko Haram and the Fulani,” the STPC wrote to Trump. “For much of this time, the U.S. government has exhibited, at best, a willful blindness towards the deliberate targeting of Nigeria’s Christian population by both Boko Haram and the Fulani."
"Such horrors are the direct result of unprovoked attacks designed, in the words of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, to render the north of Nigeria ‘free of Christians’ and ‘ruled by Sharia," said the STPC.
The STPC’s letter to Trump warned of a region already home to 2.2 million refugees, a food shortage, and an impending implosion of the nation, if nothing is done. It argued that an envoy could forge policies with the Nigerian government that would protect Christians in the country.
Open Doors List, a non-profit organization that monitors global Christian persecution, placed Nigeria as 12th on the World Watch List, a report that lists countries with the heaviest persecution. It cites violence and societal pressure.
According to Open Doors’ report, global persecution against Christians increased by six percent last year. It reports that 260 million Christians are victims of rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, and genocide. This means that 1 in 8 Christians experience persecution.
Moreover, the report states that, last year, 2,983 Christians were killed for their faith, with nearly half of these deaths occurring in Nigeria; 3,711 Christians were arrested, imprisoned or detained without trial; and 9,488 churches were attacked.