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09/04/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) recently published an explainer on the issue of religious-based violence in Nigeria. Analyzing data gathered by its researchers from 2020 to 2022, ACLED found that violence against Christians based on their religious identity rose 21% from 2020 to 2021 and another 25% from 2021 to 2022. That represents a slightly faster rate of growth compared to overall violence, which rose only 19% from 2020 to 2021.

ACLED points out that there are a number of flashpoints in addition to religion—ethnic identity, gender, profession, and government affiliation, among others—and that religion is just one factor among many. ACLED claims that only about 5% of violent events targeting civilians are aimed at Christians based on their religious identity.

ICC has analyzed ACLED data on Nigeria stretching back to 1997, and its initial findings show that Christians are, indeed, targeted in a relatively small percentage of kidnappings. However, in kidnappings where ACLED data reveals the religious affiliation of the victim—whether Christian or Muslim—ICC found that Christians are targeted nearly ten times as often as their Muslim counterparts.

While ACLED is limited in its analysis to cases of obvious targeting—an attack on a church building, for example—ICC can dive much deeper given its extensive network of staffers and experts around Nigeria. Though perhaps less obvious to an American research organization, an attack by Muslim extremists on a known Christian village can be just as much an attack on religion as an attack just to the church building itself and, in some cases, even more damaging.

ICC will explore this topic further in a forthcoming report on kidnappings across Nigeria.

For more information, please contact press@persecution.org.