New caliphate may increase persecution of African believers

Friday, April 30, 2021
Michael F. Haverluck (

Boko Haram in NigeriaA religious watchdog organization has announced that a new caliphate is emerging in sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of all Christians dying for their faith worldwide are violently murdered by Islamic terrorist groups – most notedly, Boko Haram.

Jihad's resurgence

Open Doors USA CEO David Curry is concerned that the world is paying little attention to the centralization of Islamic terrorism in Africa.

"The pattern of extremist attacks in this region strikes an alarmingly similar tone to the beginnings of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," Curry warns in a press release. "Without a concentrated effort to counter its spread, we can only expect the new Islamic State to become more dangerous."

Even though Nigeria frequently tops the headlines for holding the highest rate of religiously motivated violence in the world, other sub-Saharan nations are seeing a dramatic escalation in Islamic terrorist attacks. Chad, for example, is among the countries of greatest concern when it comes to increased jihadist attacks, especially after its longtime president, Idriss Déby, was killed on April 19 while in combat.

"Government instability opens an opportunity for extremist groups to gain a foothold," Curry explains.

Last April, the deadliest attack in Chad's history was carried out by Boko Haram and its affiliated jihadists.

Numerous countries in the region have seen a dramatic uptick in Islamic terrorism, as Open Doors' annual World Watch List indicates that Chad, Mali, Cameroon, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have all risen to higher rankings on its persecution scale.

"Since the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria, we've seen a steady rise in extremist activity coming out of northern Nigeria, but this violence isn't staying in one place – attacks on Christians and other religious minorities have spiked throughout the African continent," Curry notes. "This is a telltale sign that radical Islamic extremist groups are strategically assembling together to expand their territory."

Submit to Islam, renounce Christianity

Surfacing after the turn of the century in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Boko Haram – translated "Western education is forbidden" – has been trying to take over the region.

"Since [the early 2000s], its influence, kidnappings and violent attacks [have] spread throughout Nigeria – eventually splintering into several extremist offshoots in 2016," Open Doors reports. "Pledging loyalty to the Islamic State, Boko Haram and its affiliates – including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) – are carrying out attacks on civilians and religious minorities to drive ethnic and religious dissidents from the territory."

Assisting the persecuted Church, Open Doors provides emergency relief, trauma counseling and vocational training to victims in the sub-Saharan region who suffer injuries, displacement, and the loss of family members who have been slaughtered by Muslim militants.

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