Following Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau’s declaration late last month that militant-held areas of northeast Nigeria were now part of the Islamic caliphate, Boko Haram has reportedly burned down churches, beheaded Christian men, enslaved Christian women and forcefully converted Christian children to Islam. For years Boko Haram, a radical Islamic insurgency designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FT) by the United States last year, has waged a campaign of terror against minority Christians living in Nigeria’s increasingly Islamic north.
09/16/2014 Nigeria (World Watch Monitor) – What ISIS has done in Iraq, Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria, a Nigerian cleric says.
‘‘The news is really bad. When they attacked our hometown, we decided to vacate the place. In Michika and surrounding areas, soldiers were running away. Some of them were killed or wounded and lot of people were also running for their lives,” Rev. Samuel Dali, President of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, told World Watch Monitor as he was on the run, a few metres from the Cameroon border.
During the weekend of Sept. 6-7, Boko Haram militants took over Dali’s hometown of Michika, in Adamawa State, on Nigeria’s eastern border. Recent territorial gains made by Boko Haram in the northeast, he said, signal the end of his home and of the church in that part of the country, Africa’s most populous.
In Iraq, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, swept across the country’s north in June, forcing hundreds of thousands of people, about a quarter of them Christian, fleeing from their homes. Hundreds have been killed. Whole towns have essentially emptied of Christians and non-Sunni Muslims, and their places of worship have been destroyed or occupied.
The situation in the parts of northeast Nigeria overrun by Boko Haram is similar, Dali said.
‘‘We have lost almost everything,” he said. “Most of our churches have been destroyed and our pastors are scattered all over. Our members have fled and some of them killed. That’s what we have tried to prevent from happening.” The Church of the Brethren is known locally as Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or EYN Church.
And, as in Iraq, Nigerian Christians are on the run, Dali said.