While the slaughter of Nigerian Christians continues to elude an official designation of genocide, one expert believes their predicament will get worse before it gets better. Nonetheless, he says, "God can do great things in the midst of it all."
During the first term of recently re-elected Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (pictured), almost 25,000 people were killed in the country. Christians represented and continue to represent a large number of those slaughtered by Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen. The displacement and massacre of Nigerian Christians is essentially an unrecognized genocide, according to Dr. David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.
The deaths of the innocent remain largely unnoticed, as Curry explains it's not technically considered genocide until the U.S. State Department says it is. The legal definition includes the intentional killing or displacement of a group for reasons of their faith or race, for example. And the CEO is certain this is happening, having recently testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of Congress.
The reality, he tells OneNewsNow, is both the highly-publicized Boko Haram terrorists and the Fulani have said they want to get rid of Christians in the area. Their sentiment places them in the "category of intentionality," Curry asserts. With such intentionality, he believes it warrants an official designation of genocide by the State Department.
Sadly, according to Curry, genocide is very slow to be recognized. "Unfortunately, it's not called genocide until the damage is already done – and that would certainly be the case here," he notes
Curry shares that over 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith last year in northern Nigeria, many of them murdered by the Fulani herdsmen. In other years, he says, the numbers have been even higher since Buhari has been in charge.
The Open Doors president believes "the Fulani herdsmen have been improperly painted as having a tribal and property axe to grind." He says they are much more than herdsmen, as they are armed with "sophisticated weapons."
Least publicized is the fact that the herdsmen have a Salafist, jihadist theology, he discloses.
"This jihadist ideology goes well beyond the tribal picture many have attempted to paint," he says, explaining that their beliefs are directed by extremist ideology. "They are not the herdsmen of 300 years ago. These are radical people who are killing Christians because they are Christians, and [they] are using some sort of historical reference as their excuse."
Curry contends that's not acceptable. "It's genocide," he continues,"[and] Africa is going to be the primary theater for persecution in the years ahead because you have a young population and a corrupt government.
"Wherever you have a super young population and very corrupt government, you have unrest," he explains.
Another factor is a division in the culture – Sharia-led states in the north and large populations of Christians in the south. With all these things combined, "there is going to be a massive spike of persecution in Africa," in Curry's view.
"It is not going to get better with the current corruption and leadership vacuum in Nigeria," he continues – calling it physics when "the fact there is an exceptionally weak government, the fact that Buhari has a political base that is Fulani, the fact that he has turned a deaf ear to Christians" will equate to more persecution.
Curry sadly admits he doesn't believe it's going to change very quickly.
"It's going to get worse for Christians in northern Nigeria until the church wakes up and the Nigerian people insist upon a government that isn't corrupt and will care for Christians in the north because they are being slaughtered," he predicts.
"Although this sounds bleak," he concludes, "I know God can do great things in the midst of it all."
A small step in the right direction occurred this past week when President Donald Trump invited victims of religious persecution to the White House. Those conversations between the president and the persecuted have been noted and transcribed by the White House.