More than 10,000 Christians have been killed since 1999, the year Islamic “Sharia law” was introduced in Nigeria, according to Voice of the Martyrs, a group that aids the persecuted church around the world.
Nearly 1,000 homes and churches have been burned down by Muslim radicals – with a wink and a nod from a government that doesn’t recognize the rights of non-Muslims.
The war on Christians began in 1999 when Alhaji Ahmed Sani assumed the office of governor in Nigeria’s Zamfara state. Just five months later, he introduced Sharia law. Soon 11 other northern Nigerian states, all with Muslim majorities, followed Zamfara’s lead and implemented some form of the harsh Islamic legal code.
Sharia is based on the Quran and Hadith, the Islamic sacred book and teachings. It imposes a strict code of conduct on the population. For example, if an individual is convicted of stealing, the punishment is amputation of his hand. In the case of adultery, the punishment is death by stoning.
“If you go around villages, you will see people missing one hand or one foot,” explained Rev. Obiora Ike. “Do you think that’s the result of an illness? That is the result of Sharia Law.”
Christians in the country say the imposition of Sharia law has resulted in a wave of violence and attacks against them, their homes, churches and villages as the militants wage jihad, or holy war, against them.
Sharia law permits violent attacks against non-Muslims and the killing of former Muslims who have converted to Christianity or other faiths. The destruction of churches and the prohibition of new church constructions are considered legitimate actions.
Recently, before a large crowd, the Zamfara state government recently held a five-year anniversary to celebrate the implementation of Sharia. Governor Ahmad Sani recalled why Sharia was introduced into the state: to satisfy the desire of the people for governance by the “laws of Allah … to cleanse society of social and moral vices like alcoholism, gambling, theft, armed robbery, prostitution, bribery, corruption and deceit.”
Muslim zealots are being financed by Saudis who want to Islamicize the entire African continent.
The implementation of Sharia has been blamed for the vast violence and deaths occurring not just in Zamfara state, where it was first implemented, but in other states as well.
Earlier this year Muslim militants announced a death sentence on five Christian students expelled from Abubaker Tafawa Balewa University and the Federal Polytechnic in state of Bauchi, in November 2004, for sharing the gospel with Muslim students. Muslims in the schools complained that the Christian students blasphemed the prophet Mohammed.
The families of two of the students, Hanatu Haruna Alkali and Abraham Adamu Misal, were attacked Jan. 26, when militants went to their family homes located in the state of Gombe, in northern Nigeria, with the intent to kill them. Reportedly, Muslim militants have attacked Hanatu’s family’s house several times, and the family fears for their lives.
Rev. Oludare Aliu, national coordinator of the students’ ministry of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, said: “Muslim militants went to Gombe to … kill Hanatu, but fortunately, she was not at home at the time. The family was held at gunpoint. Hanatu’s father happens to be a former military officer. He wrestled with the militants and was able to disarm one of them who had a gun. While he was fighting them, one of the militants stabbed Hanatu’s mother with a knife. She has been treated for the wounds.”
Hanatu is now in hiding. Militants also attacked Abraham Adamu Misal’s family. He escaped and is in hiding.
On March 17, in the Nigerian state of Benue, a Christian student, Ngumalen Atser, was raped and poisoned to death by two Muslim men. This incident escalated tension between Muslims and Christians, which led to Muslim militants attacking the villages of Chilakera and Imbufu April 10. Seventeen people, mostly Christians, died.
According to a Compass Direct report on this situation, “Community leaders in Nigeria – both Muslim and Christian – blame the escalating violence on social tensions produced by the implementation of Islamic law in a dozen northern states of Nigeria.”
The meeting place of Word of Faith Ministries in the state of Kaduna was burned to the ground that same day – April 10, for the fourth time in five years. However, members of the church have rebuilt every time. No arrests have been made in connection to the arson.