A group of human rights and religious liberty organizations in Washington condemn the barbaric multi-city Easter Sunday bombings in Kaduna and Plateau state that claimed dozens of lives. Attacks on northern and central Nigeria’s Christian community come as no surprise in light of Boko Haram’s genocidal declarations to kill Christians in the North, yet sadly they were avoidable. Despite the fact that the world has been on notice about religiously motivated terrorism in Nigeria due to sustained terrorist activity occurring against perceived "Western" concepts including churches, schools and even the United Nations, governments at home and abroad have largely ignored or underestimated the growing problem of interreligious strife and terrorism within Nigeria.
In the past few years violent groups like Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the equally deadly multi-city Christmas church bombings, have increased attacks on Christians as a way of destabilizing the country. As US officials continue to ignore the threat to religious liberty posed by religiously motivated terrorism within Nigeria we should expect more gloomy religious holidays to threaten the country’s fragile democracy as well as our own national security.
We particularly denounce the Assistant Secretary for Africa, Ambassador Johnnie Carson's ill-informed and exceedingly insensitive remarks that the crisis in Nigeria is not "religious." How the senseless serial killings of innocent worshippers during church services by a group whose publicly stated mission is to Islamize the nation and abolish democracy can be anything but religious is to willfully blind oneself to objective reality. It goes against all available evidence and even the pleas of the Nigerian government.
It is deplorable that the US has neither offered humanitarian assistance nor pressed the Government of Nigeria to provide compensation to the hundreds of families who lost loved ones in Nigeria's post-election violence that targeted faith communities in 12 states. Rather one year later, victims remain without succour while the US glosses over the massive human losses sustained during the 2011 elections.
We believe that the US should be more forthright in its assessment of the facts. With the largest political section in Africa, it is bewildering that there is such a huge disconnect between the realities on the ground and the conclusions coming out of the US Department of State. The US Department of State must declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization and place the Boko Haram and related organizations on its terrorist list. International travel by anyone associated with Boko Haram must be banned.
Nigeria is today closer to a civil war along religious lines than ever before in its history. The US government cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel as Africa's most important country totters on the verge of implosion.
AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE
THE BECKETT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
THE INSTITUTE FOR RELIGION AND DEMOCRACY
INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN CONCERN
THE WESTMINSTER INSTITUTE
THE JUSTICE FOR JOS PLUS PROJECT
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