BREAKING: International Mainstream Media beams satellite to W’Africa, Says “Islamists Terrorist in Nigeria are destroying Christian Society”
ABUJA, Nigeria — It was faith that compelled us to travel to Nigeria last week to see for ourselves the simmering crisis threatening parts of Africa’s wealthiest and most populous country. “Do not stand by idly,” the Book of Leviticus commands, “when the blood of your neighbor is being spilled” (19:16).
Well, blood is flowing like a river through this sprawling country, and it is being spilled at the hands of the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram and lawless tribesmen. Dozens of victims shared accounts of almost incomprehensible suffering.
A 9-year-old girl told us about watching terrorists murder her parents and siblings with machetes. A pastor whose church had been destroyed twice met with us soon after negotiating the release of two female parishioners kidnapped by Boko Harem while en route to a Christmas celebration. The young women next to him, newly released, still showing signs of shock.
They recounted how the terrorists had captured them at their “checkpoint” within earshot of a state police outpost. One of the young women was sharp enough to keep her phone on and concealed. It allowed the local authorities to locate them. Yet government troops who came within visual distance of the girls chose not to rescue them.
Risking his own life, he drove to the designated place for the exchange in the hope that the terrorists would fulfill the agreement they had reached; mercifully, they did.
Other stories didn’t end so happily. We met men from a village razed entirely by the Islamists. The livelihoods were sabotaged, their families’ massacred. The attackers waited till the middle of the night before assailing men, women and childnre with guns and machetes. Kidnapping wasn’t to their taste. They started fires, then unleashed horrific ethnic cleansing.
Nigeria’s Muslim president, Muhammadu Buhari, shared her Christian testimony in a statement published here on the front page of a leading newspaper while we were in the country.
“Leah remains in the hands of the terrorists,” said Buhari. “They say
because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith. We say that no person has the right to force another to change their faith against their will, and that all life is sacred.”
Buhari was right to make these pronouncements as it’s right for Christian leaders to make similar pronouncements when the victims are Muslims.
That’s why we believe the United States should appoint a special envoy for the region to work with the Nigerian government to immediately address the region’s security challenges. Meanwhile, religious leaders of all faiths must stand in solidarity with one another in defiance of the hate that terrorists aim to foment.
As one of Nigeria’s most influential Christian leaders told us, “yesterday was the best day to act.” In a separate meeting, one of the country’s most prominent imams said virtually the same. They are right. Time is running out.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rev. Johnnie Moore is the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders.