A vision of Christ helped give Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, Nigeria, hope for the eventual end of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, after the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in the remote town of Chibok in April 2014.
Pope Francis expressed his concern Sunday for a deadly shooting at a Catholic church in Nigeria on the feast of Pentecost that left somewhere between 25 and 50 people dead. The pope said he was praying for “the victims and the country.”
Religious freedom advocates are confused over the omission of Nigeria from a U.S. State Department list of countries known for having the world’s worst attacks on Christians. “We’re baffled,” said Ed Clancy, of Brooklyn-based Aid to the Church in Need-U.S. “By every single measure, Nigeria has gotten worse.”
Prosecutors in Nigeria claim a Catholic journalist violated cybercrime laws when he wrote about complaints that the government failed to arrest any suspects in the Oct. 29 murders of 38 Christians in southern Kaduna State.
Many people may not think about religious repression since it doesn’t happen in the United States. For those who may argue that it does, then it doesn’t happen on the scale and terror of those living in countries with authoritarian regimes.
“A land of infidels” is how Boko Haram’s leader described the Kano state of north-central Nigeria. Last year, an Islamic recording artist received a death sentence there for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Ongoing violence in Nigeria pits Muslim cattle herders and Christian farmers in a bloody struggle for agricultural land at Nigeria’s center, said Father Cosmas Nzeabalu and Sister Elizabeth Ogbu, both assigned to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
A dozen states in Nigeria are Muslim- majority, and since 1999 they have all at least partially implemented sharia law.
On a 10-day U.S. tour to raise awareness about life in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, Bishop Matthew H. Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, visited Nigerians in Brooklyn to talk about the need for education, solidarity and prayers. The tour was sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need.
As Holy Week and Easter approached, Pope Francis wanted to show his ongoing concern for people persecuted and displaced by violence in Iraq and in northern Nigeria.