Nigeria accounts for 89% of martyred Christians worldwide – Report
By Sinafi Omanga
The Open Doors World Watch List 2023, released this week has said that out of the total of 5,621 Christians killed for their faith Nigeria recorded 5,014, marking the country as one of the most dangerous places “to follow Jesus”.
The report tracked the period from October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022.
Open Doors said the data was compiled from grassroots reports by more than 4,000 of its workers across over 60 countries.
Urging the United States State Department to reconsider Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern, the report said if not addressed, persecution against Christians “will soon trigger a vast humanitarian catastrophe across the continent”.
It added that the year under review “has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority South of the nation” while “Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity”.
“Violence against Christians is most extreme in Nigeria where militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery”, the report added.
In a repeat of last year’s ranking, Nigeria ranked No. 1 in the World Watch List (WWL) subcategories of Christians killed, abducted, sexually harassed, forcibly married and physically or mentally abused.
It also ranked No. 1 in homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons as well as No. 2 in the subcategories of church attacks and internal displacement.
The report added that Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa are the epicenter of jihadist violence.
“The violations of religious freedom in Nigeria are emblematic of a rapidly growing Islamist presence in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Islamic extremism continues to cause the most persecution (31 nations), especially in sub-Sahara. Today’s report also marks 30 years of the list, first created in 1993 after the Iron Curtain fell.”
The report listed Nigeria, Pakistan, Cameroon, India, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Myanmar, Colombia and Niger in a chronological order as top ten countries where Christians face the highest rate of violence.
Open Doors blames Islamic suppression and extremism as the reason most of the listed countries are not safe for Christians.
Reacting, the managing director of research, Open Doors, Frans Veerman, said “the biggest threat to Christianity is that persecution brings isolation, and when it keeps going on incessantly it may cause loss of hope”.
“So the biggest threat to the church in countries with persecution is decrease of resilience caused by incessant persecution and the feeling of being forsaken by the rest of the body of Christ.”
Find the 2023 Open Doors report here
Earlier, The ICIR reported how 11 years after surviving a Christmas Day bomb attack in 2011, a Catholic priest, Reverend Father Isaac Achi, was burnt to death by terrorists in Niger State, northern Nigeria.
Read the report here
Source: International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR