8/24/16 Washington, DC (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that radical Muslims have vandalized multiple churches in northern Nigeria after a Christian university student was hospitalized, nearly beaten to death by a mob of Muslim students, accusing him of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
On Sunday, August 21, an argument between a Christian and Muslim student broke out at Abdu Gusau Polytechnic in Talata-Mafara, Zamfara State, and quickly turned violent when the mob gathered to assault the Christian student. According to eyewitnesses, the mob claimed that the Christian student deserved to die for blasphemy.
The Christian student only survived because a fellow Christian intervened to rush him to the hospital with the help of a compassionate Muslim who volunteered his car to carry the victim.
Radical Muslim students began rioting the following day, Monday, destroying Christian campus establishments.
“They moved [around] the school [and] burnt down the Christian fellowship secretariats,” a campus ministry spokesperson said.
One local church leader told ICC that the chaos overflowed from the campus into the general town.
“When I heard this from my pastor and one of my members, I immediately called some security officials because the radicals went on rampage in town,” Anglican Bishop of Zamfara Rev. John Danbinta said.
“They went to ECWA Church, Living Church, and Anglican Church. They vandalized the Anglican Church pastorium, destroying electronics and other property. I heard they also burnt down the home of the rescue volunteer Muslim man (who assisted the attacked Christian student to the hospital), trapping and killing eight persons inside who, sadly, happened to be Muslims also,” Danbinta said.
“Things would have been worse but for the intervention of security agencies,” he added.
Local Christians call on anyone concerned to pray for their safety as Christians face increased violence in the wake of the incident.
Blasphemy in Northern Nigeria
Radical Muslim mobs who carry out extrajudicial attacks on Christians for alleged blasphemy are nothing new in northern Nigeria. On June 2, 2016, an angry band of radical Muslim youths assembled to murder Bridget Agbahime, a pastor’s wife, beating her to death with iron rods after claiming she insulted Islam.
A young Muslim had provoked Mrs. Agbahime by intentionally crossing the street each day to perform Muslim ritualistic washing in front of her shop, impeding traffic to her business and splashing her goods with water. When she confronted the man about the disruption, he alleged blasphemy and the mob assembled within minutes to scale the walls of an office building where she and her husband were taking refuge and burst in to murder her.
According to Muslim eyewitnesses, Mrs. Agbahime was simply reacting to protect her business and did not blaspheme.
The story reached international headlines where even Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was compelled to comment, calling the incident, “sad and regrettable,” according to Bloomberg.
Christians Under Threat
These cases represent the normal heat of persecution from Muslim radicals on Christian minority communities in northern states where Muslim Sharia law is imposed.
“We really need help!” Danbinta lamented. “Our fellow Christians elsewhere should mobilize resources and support the Church in Zamfara. Things are difficult for us here.”
In a country where the constitution protects religious freedom in every state, areas of northern Nigeria exist under a legal contradiction where Christians face such attacks under the banner of Sharia.
“ICC condemns the recent attack on this Christian student and the subsequent riots that have damaged Christian property in Zamfara State. If Nigeria is to be considered advancing in human rights and religious freedom, the government must take concerted steps to curb such violence and prosecute the people responsible. Furthermore, Nigeria should apply the tenets of its constitution fairly across all corners of the country, protecting and maintaining a citizen’s right to worship and to disagree freely without fear of any threats to their safety, extrajudicial or otherwise,” ICC’s Regional Manager, Troy Augustine, said.