According to Open Doors, Nigeria is the 12th worst country in the world for persecution of Christians. Those responsible are Islamists, who are concentrated almost entirely in the north. In large areas the Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri groups are in the majority and Christians often face persecution. There are some areas of the north – states such as Taraba, Benue, Plateau and parts of Kaduna – where Christians are in the majority; but the presence of Hausas and Fulanis has increased over the years. Violent conflict has been the result.
Western observers tend to see the conflict in economic, not religious terms. To them, the movement of Fulanis into predominantly Christian farming areas is due to the need for grazing land. Yet northern Christians are inclined to see this as part of a longer story of religious conflict: they do not forget the Fulani jihad of the 19th century and the misery it brought to areas which were then “pagan”.
Christians also put little faith in the mainstream Western media. The mass media rightly deplored the massacre of 50 Muslims in New Zealand, but it has largely ignored the fact that in the past two months more than 100 Christians have been butchered by armed Fulani gangs in Kaduna state alone.