For the third time in just the past few years, and the second time in 2011 alone, Christians have been attacked and killed, allegedly by Muslim mobs, over a disputed election result across Africa’s vast expanses.
There, a recent election saw a Christian candidate picked over a Muslim challenger.
Similar situations developed earlier in both Kenya, where President Barack Obama campaigned for the Muslim challenger, and in Ivory Coast, where a Christian president re-elected and confirmed by his own nation’s election procedures was removed from office and replaced by a Muslim challenger at the behest of the United States and the United Nations.
In Nigeria, Muslim rioters killed more than 100 Christians and burned more than 40 churches yesterday “in response to the election of Jonathan Goodluck, a Christian, as president,” according to ICC.
“The Muslim attackers allege that the election was rigged and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim presidential candidate, is the rightful winner. Yet, impartial observers have called this election the fairest in decades,” the organization said.
It cited a report from a Commonwealth election observer who said, “The elections for the National Assembly and the presidency were both credible and creditable and reflected the will of the Nigerian people.”
The ICC reported the full extent of the casualties and damages isn’t readily available.
“The casualties could be much higher as the attacks took place over many of the 12 Muslim majority states in northern Nigeria,” the organization reported. “The situation is beginning to calm since security forces were deployed and enforced a 24-hour curfew.”
But it said minority Christians in those Muslim-majority areas “have faced repeated bouts of violence and discrimination” and “tens and thousands of Christians have been killed” over the years.
“We are very saddened by the violence against Christians and their property in northern Nigeria,” said Jonathan Racho, ICC’s regional manager for Africa. “Disputes over elections shouldn’t have been allowed to lead to religious violence against Christians.”
Officials with the Barnabas Fund echoed his concerns.
“The Red Cross is reporting that many people have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced,” the organization reported.
The circumstances in Ivory Coast were similar. There, the re-elected Christian president was taken into custody just days ago as the French military intervened on behalf of a Muslim candidate.
There, Muslim candidate Alassane Ouattara took over from Christian incumbent Laurent Gbagbo after the U.N. and the U.S. demanded the change.
Gbagbo had remained in office after he was declared the winner by the nation’s own constitutional election process, which had determined there was voter fraud in the Muslim regions of the nation, and that fraud gave the initial election result that Ouattara had won.
“Supporters of the two men are split broadly along the country’s geographical, ethnic and religious divide. The predominantly Muslim north largely backs Ouattara, a Muslim from that region, while support for Gbagbo, a Christian, comes from the mainly Christian south. As forces loyal to Ouattara have fought to install their man, Christians, who are associated with Gbabgo, have been particularly targeted; imams have reportedly called on Muslims to attack Christians,” the Barnabas Fund report said.
“The country’s electoral commission announced Ouattara as the winner of the November poll – with 54 percent of the vote – and this result was backed by the United Nations. But Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council, the body that certifies election results in the country, declared Gbagbo the winner based on valid votes cast. It annulled results in seven northern regions amid reports of electoral irregularities.”
In Ivory Coast, there was a massacre of between 800 and 1,000 people “who were seeking shelter at a Christian mission compound in Duekoue,” according to Barnabas Fund. The attackers reportedly were “descendants of immigrant Muslims … loyal to Ouattara.”
Sen. Barack Obama with Raila Odinga
Then-Sen. Barack Obama campaigned for now-Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a Muslim. Obama barnstormed on behalf of Odinga, the socialist who hails from the same tribal heritage, the Luo, as Obama.
Appearing with Odinga at campaign stops, Obama gave speeches accusing the sitting Kenyan president of being corrupt and oppressive.
Then on Aug. 29, 2007, Odinga signed a secret Memorandum of Understanding with Muslim Sheikh Abdullah Abdi, the chief of the National Muslim Leaders Forum of Kenya. In exchange for Muslim support, Odinga promised to rewrite the Kenyan constitution to install Shariah as law in “Muslim declared regions,” elevate Islam as “the only true religion” and give Islamic leaders “oversight” over other religions, establish Shariah courts and ban Christian proselytism.
Even with strong Muslim backing, Odinga was beaten in the December 2007 elections. He then accused the incumbent president of rigging the vote and allegedly incited his supporters to riot. Over the next month, some 1,500 Kenyans were killed and more than 500,000 displaced – with most of the violence led by Muslims, who set churches ablaze and hacked Christians to death with machetes.
Odinga eventually ended up as prime minister in Kenya through a power-sharing arrangement that was installed in an effort to appease those who were rioting.