With 2012 firmly in the past, Christians groups are taking stock of the past year. When looking back, Christian groups have discovered that 70% of Christians killed in 2012 were killed in Nigeria. Many of these victims were murdered by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. This disturbing satistic has led many groups to renew their calls for the US government to take action against the extremist group. The US has yet to designate Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization and has refused to designate Nigeria a Country of Particular Concern. Both of these designations would help the quell the violence faced by Christians in Nigeria.
5/14/2013 Nigeria (Christianity Today) – Amid another surge of violence in Nigeria, the idea of an amnesty deal between the Nigerian government and militant Islamist group Boko Haram has the support of Christian president Goodluck Jonathan. But the proposal is firmly opposed by most Christian groups in the West African nation.
Following calls to offer amnesty to Boko Haram in exchange for the end of its terror campaign against Christians and other targeted groups (including the government, whose military has often been heavy-handed with militants), Jonathan has commissioned a 25-member presidential committee to examine how a pardon could be implemented.
The Vanguard newspaper reports that “some Nigerians believe amnesty would entice those among the terrorists who are tired to rejoin normal society as law abiding citizens. They buttress their argument by pointing to the calming effect the policy had in the Niger Delta.” (Delta militants have threatened to target Boko Haram themselves.)
However, many church leaders and Christian groups oppose the amnesty deal, calling it “nothing but the legalisation of terrorism in the country.” Others say such pardon would “send out a wrong signal of encouraging criminality.”
Nearly 1,000 Nigerian Christians were killed in 2012, and more than 100 have died in the first few months of 2013, according to Jubilee Campaign. Executive director Ann Buwalda says this accounts for “almost 70 percent of Christians killed globally” last year, making Nigeria “the most lethal country for Christians by a huge margin.”
In an essay for Morning Star News ahead of the release of a significant report on the bellwether city of Jos, Buwalda and human rights attorney Emmanuel Ogebe wrote:
With 3,000 casualties affecting citizens from a dozen countries in three years, Boko Haram has earned a dubious distinction as one of the top five lethal terrorist organizations in the world. In the last three years, however, the three most deadly incidents of anti-Christian persecution—with triple-digit casualties—in Nigeria were the March 7, 2010 massacre in Jos, Plateau state, the April 16, 2011 pogrom in the country’s sharia (Islamic law) states and the Jan. 20, 2012 onslaught in Kano. Two out of these three incidents were not the handiwork of terrorists but of average northern Nigerian Muslims.