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‘The Next Jihad’: Evangelical leader, rabbi warn about ‘Christian genocide’ in Africa


Reported By Samuel Smith, U.S. Editor

Christians in Nigeria take part in funerals in April 2019. | Intersociety

The rise of violent extremist groups throughout Africa, as well as the constant attacks against Christian communities in the continent’s most populated country, has religious leaders fearful that “the next jihad” is underway as world leaders seem to be rushing to address the problem.

“I know one thing has never really changed: No one gives a damn about Africa except for their natural resources or if there is going to be a big party because there is a peace treaty being signed,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the global social action agenda of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with over 400,000 family members.

“That’s just the truth and it’s a terrible truth. It might be one of the vestiges, frankly, of colonialism.”

W Publishing Group

Cooper teamed up with Rev. Johnnie Moore, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, to author the new book The Next Jihad: Stop the Christian Genocide in Africa.

The book was written after the unlikely duo traveled together to Nigeria earlier this year to meet with dozens of Christian victims of terrorism from five different regions.

In recent years, Nigeria, the continent’s richest country, has dealt with the rise of Islamic terrorist groups in the northeast (Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province) and an increase of deadly attacks on farming communities carried out by militarized radicals from the Fulani herding community.

In the past few years, it’s been estimated that thousands of Christians have been killed while millions of Nigerians have been displaced from their communities. Some human rights groups have warned that attacks against Christian communities in Nigeria have reached the standard for genocide.

“[We want] to help people really feel the problem and understand it enough to do something about it,” Moore, an evangelical human rights advocate, told The Christian Post about the purpose of the book. “It was Rabbi Cooper who initiated the trip and encouraged me and us to go together to shine a light on what was happening there. It felt like deja vu to me because back in 2014, the Weisenthal Center was the first organization of any kind that recognized what ISIS was doing to Christians and Yazidis in Iraq was genocide.”

“Where my mind was when we were writing the book right after our trip, 10 days before the world started shutting down because of COVID, I thought this could be the next jihad,” Moore continued. “I since come to realize that it is the next jihad right now. It is not just Nigeria. It is the countries around Nigeria. It is a quickly escalating problem.”

Outside of Nigeria, the growing presence of Islamic extremist groups and increasing attacks have plagued other regions of Africa and caused mass displacement.

Those regions include the Sahel, where hundreds of thousands have been displaced amid escalating terror attacks in the last two years in Burkina Faso, as well as East Africa, where al-Shabab terrorists are attacking citizens in Somalia and Kenya. In southern Africa, over 300,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique amid a stark increase in radical Islamic extremist attacks in the northern part of the country in recent years.

While acknowledging that the spread of terrorism and violence in Africa after the fall of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is a continent-wide problem, much of the book’s focus is on Nigeria as both leaders see the country as being a continental leader when it comes to its size and influence.

USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore (M) speaks during a meeting with Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 5, 2019. He is flanked by USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin (R) and USCIRF’s director of international law and policy Elizabeth Cassidy (L). USCIRF

“It has the 10th largest oil reserves in the world, it is the most populated country in Africa,” Moore explained. “It has the largest economy in Africa. It is surrounded by countries with terrorist insurgencies. If anything goes the wrong way, the Syrian crisis will feel like a distant memory compared to the catastrophe that the failure of West Africa could actually happen because of neglecting the situation in Nigeria.”

But in Nigeria and even among some U.S. diplomats, the debate on violence in Nigeria is complicated, especially when it comes to the rise of Fulani extremist attacks on predominantly Christian farming villages in the country’s Middle Belt.

On a regular basis, reports emerge of overnight attacks carried out on farming villages in which people are slaughtered, homes are burned and farmlands are confiscated.

“One of the important things to understand that it is not just Boko Haram and ISIS in West Africa now,” Moore said.

“But because the government now has neglected dealing with these people, you have militarized Fulani tribesman. We are very careful to make it clear that Fulani are the largest tribe in Africa — almost 20 million. Not every Fulani is a terrorist. But because the government hasn’t dealt with the terrorism in the northeast, you have terrorists among the Fulani who are now killing more people than Boko Haram ever had in the center part of the country, which happens to be where the Christians and the oil is.”

The Anambra-based International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law estimates that at least 812 Christians were killed by Fulani radicals in the first half of 2020 by radical herdsmen.

While human rights advocates have accused the Nigerian government of not doing enough to protect its citizens from Fulani attacks, talk about how the international community should respond to the crisis has been “deflected” by a debate about what role religion is playing in the Fulani attacks, the authors explained.

While the Nigerian government has maintained that the conflict is less about religion and is just a continuation of a decades-old resource conflict between herders and farmers, Christian victims and advocates contend that there are strong religious overtones at play in the violence that should not be ignored, especially when attackers are screaming “Allahu Akbar” as they slaughter villagers and burn down houses.

In the book, Moore and Cooper recalled a meeting they had in February with U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard in which they discussed the religious aspects of the violence throughout the country.

“She denied that it was at all about religion and described the conflict as ‘fundamentally a resource issue,’” the book states. “Religion was, according to Ambassador Leonard, only relevant as it served as a potential accelerant to conflict. She left us with the impression that people like us, by speaking up for victims of religious persecution, were part of the problem. We found this to be hugely alarming.”

Cooper pointed out that while the Nigerian military has the capacity to stop the violence, the military has not been or willing or able to do so. The authors believe that the U.S. and United Kingdom governments should do more in their power to pressure the Nigerian government to protect its citizens.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of the global social action agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, California. Simon Wiesenthal Center

”The goal is to get these two governments to sort of get past the reflective and deflective discussions about whether it is just tribal and religion,” Cooper stated. “We don’t want to demonize Nigeria as a failed or lost state, it is not there yet. It is too big and too important to fail. We need American diplomats, U.K. diplomats and others to stop putting blinders on because they just don’t want to go there when it comes to religion. That is a huge mistake. You can’t treat cancer unless you can fully identify the nature and scope of that cancer.”

The book was released just weeks ahead of the U.S. presidential election last month.

“We believe that whoever is sitting in the Oval Office in January and whatever the number counts are in the House and Senate, the issue of Nigeria — and specifically the genocide that is underway there against Christians — will have to be an issue that is dealt with by the United States,” Cooper contended, “not only because of religious freedom and all the rest but also because of the terrorist players that are operating in the neighborhood and expanding their operations.”

African Migrants Protest Denial of Passage Through Mexico to U.S.


Reported by Bob Price | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/border/2019/08/27/african-migrants-protest-denial-of-passage-through-mexico-to-u-s/

African migrants and locals use a makeshift raft to illegaly cross the Suchiate river from Tecun Uman in Guatemala to Ciudad Hidalgo in Chiapas State, Mexico, on June 10, 2019. – In the framework of Mexico’s deal to curb migration in order to avert US President Donald Trump’s threat of …Photo: PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of African migrants are finding themselves trapped in Mexico’s southern border region after new immigration rules no longer allow them safe passage to the U.S. The rule changes now say they must naturalize in Mexico or exit through its southern border.

A Cameroonian migrant, Esteban Azu, 37, said he paid human smugglers $8,000 to get him into the U.S. He said his journey took him from his home country to Turkey, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and finally to Mexico, Animal Politico reported.

“I arrived in Tapachula a month ago. I left Cameroon and went directly to Ecuador. From there to Colombia. I climbed mountains, walked through the jungle, to find this shit,” Azu expressed. “This shit! They don’t feed me. They don’t give me anything. I am very angry with the government of Mexico. This is not normal. This is bullshit. We need a solution. We just want to get out of here.”

The man who claims to be a plumber by trade, now finds himself trapped in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

A June 7 rule change that stems from an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico no longer allows safe passage to the United States. Mexico deployed thousands of its newly formed National Guard to enforce the new laws and deter migration through the country, Breitbart Texas reported. Since that time, migration through Mexico has dropped by about 40 percent.

Prior to the rule change, more than 1,100 African migrants arrived in a single Texas Border Patrol sector in a five-week period, Breitbart Texas reported in July.

In a press call in June, Brian Hastings, U.S. Border Patrol Chief of Law Enforcement Operations, told reporters this was the first large group “ever recorded in Border Patrol history solely from Central and South Africa. We’ve never seen that demographic in a large group of that size before.”

Prior to the rule change, migrants — African or others — received a 20-day passage through the country and were required to leave via any border. Obviously, the goal was the northern border of Mexico.

The new document being provided to migrants in southern Mexico states that the migrant may not “travel freely.” The document says they now must leave the country in 20 days “through a place destined for the international transit of people on the southern border closest to the place where said document was issued.”

Animal Politico interviews dozens of migrants — mostly Africans — who told the same story. They stated they were ordered to go to the regularization office or they may apply for asylum in Mexico. Neither option is said to be acceptable as their stated goal is entry into the United States.

“They do not want to request refuge in Chiapas because they want to do so in the United States,” Animal Politico stated.

Mexican immigration authorities reported that 3,712 people from Africa appeared between January and June 2019. The majority of those came from Cameroon. Most of the balance came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Similar demographics were reported by Del Rio Sector Border Patrol officials in June when more than 500 African migrants appeared along the U.S. side of Mexico’s northern border in a one-week period, Breitbart Texas reported.

Two weeks before the illegal crossings began in the Del Rio Sector, hundreds of African migrants gathered near an international bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, to protest not being allowed entry into the U.S. through a legal port of entry, Breitbart News reported. The group complained that Cuban migrants were given preferential treatment.

Since that time, multiple groups of African migrants, mostly family units, crossed in the same area in large numbers. On June 5, agents apprehended another group of 34, bringing the total to more than 500 in less than a week.

In June and July, U.S. officials reported sharp decreases in the number of migrants being apprehended after crossing the border illegally.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

NGO: Fulani Killings of Nigerian Christians Amount to ‘Genocide’


Written by Edwin Mora | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/07/23/ngo-fulani-killings-of-nigerian-christians-amount-to-genocide/

Nigerian pilgrims wait outside the Tomb of Jesus during their visit at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on February 25, 2016. / AFP / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty
 

‘Nobody Will Go Back’: Christians Flee Middle East After Fall of Islamic State


Reported by EDWIN MORA |

Iranian Christian worshippers attend the Christmas mass at the Saint Joseph Chaldean-Assyrian Catholic church, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. Iranian Christians are a minority and recognized by the constitution in the Muslim country and are represented in the parliament. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
 

The number of Christians in the birthplace of their faith, the greater Middle East, continues to plummet months after the Islamic State, which waged a genocidal campaign against Christians, lost its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, Breitbart News learned from various experts, including an archbishop.

“Unfortunately, it can be stated that the Islamic State group’s anti-Christian campaign was very successful in Iraq, and to a certain extent, successful in Syria,” John Hajjar, the co-chair of the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy (AMCD) and co-director of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC), told Breitbart News.

“I think we have no more hope,”Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the diocesan legate in America’s capital and ecumenical director for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of America, also told Breitbart News, referring to the future of Christianity in its Middle East cradle. “Middle East Christians have no nation that protects them openly.”

The number of Christians in Middle East-North Africa (MENA), as a component of the overall Muslim-majority population, has dropped substantially — from about ten percent in 1900 to between two and four percent now.

There are different estimates for the overall number of Christians that vary from about 12 million in the Middle East alone to about 20 million in MENA, Breitbart News learned from the experts and data from U.S. government and independent sources.

“The future for Christians right now is terrible — a Middle East without Christians. We are going to have churches without Christians as museums for tourists. There will be no Christians left,” the archbishop warned, echoing other analysts who have constantly cautioned that Christianity is on the verge of extinction in the Middle East.

“The number of Christians in the Middle East has already dropped extensively,” he further declared, accusing church leaders of inflating the actual numbers of Christ followers in the region to minimize the fact that Christianity is on the brink of extinction.

The bishop urged U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to do even more to help Middle East Christians.

Contradicting assertions by the Trump administration, the Church leader said, “People are not coming back. I can assure you that nobody will go back.”

The Trump administration has disbursed billions in funding to help victims of ISIS genocide, namely Christians and Yazidis, but the bishop told Breitbart News it is “not enough.”

“Trump is going to be a hero for the Christians in the Middle East if he takes more action,” he said.

Addressing President Trump, Archbishop Aykazian added, “Please help the Christians. They need your help and once you move one of your fingers the entire Arabic world will thank you. If he does such a thing, it is going to change everything. If he doesn’t, they will suffer.”

“The ball is in Trump’s court,” he further said.

In Iraq, which experts say has experienced the most dramatic drop in Christians due to jihadis and Iran-allied groups, Aykazian told Breitbart News that number has decreased from 1.6 million to less than 100,000, marking a drop of more than 90 percent.

“A similar situation is taking place in Syria’s Aleppo where there has also been a drop of more than 90 percent in Christians, from 360,000 to about 25,000 now,” he said, noting, “The church leaders don’t want to say those statements because they fear their followers will be disillusioned.”

ISIS’s genocide campaign targeted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, primarily Christians and Yazidis, killing tens of thousands of them and taking some hostages as sex slaves.

“They [Christians] realized just how insecure they are,” Nina Shea, a religious freedom expert at the Hudson Institute, told Breitbart News. “Their own governments fail to protect them, and ISIS gained popular support within some neighboring major Sunni areas, like Mosul.”

Archbishop Aykazian said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi “so far has been the best leader in the Middle East for defending Christians.” he said, adding, “The biggest Christian majorities are in Egypt.”

Shea pointed out, “Egypt retains ten million Coptic Christians. That is the only place where I see a certain future for them [Christians].”

“In a generation, Egypt may be the only remaining country with a robust Christian community that traces its roots to the earliest Christian church,” Shea added. “Elsewhere in the Middle East, only remnants of these ancient communities may survive.”

Nevertheless, Shea and the bishop acknowledged that, even in Egypt, Christians are confronting the spread of Sunni extremism and anti-Christian bigotry. The ongoing war against Islamic terrorism continues to kill, wound, and push Christians out of their historical homelands in the greater Middle East, even in Egypt.

“More recently, after the Arab Spring and with the rise of ISIS, tens of thousands of Christians were killed in Iraq and Syria,” Hajjar said. “Close to 1 million Christians in the region have gone into exile.”

“Following multiple terrorist attacks in Egypt against the Copts, many Christian Egyptians also emigrated from their country,” Hajjar continued. “We can estimate that more than 25-30 percent of Christians in the Middle East have been affected by the recent wars and conflicts.”

The experts also attributed the ongoing demise of Christianity in the Middle East to certain governments’ disdain towards followers of Christianity and their refusal to protect them.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly designated Christians as “enemies of the state.” In Iraq, the country that experienced the sharpest drop in the number of Christ followers in recent years, Baghdad-sanctioned Iran-allied Shiite militias have reportedly taken Christian lands and are harassing them.

Referring to the countries that have experienced the largest decline in Christians, Hajjar named Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. Similar to Hajjar’s list, the bishop said, “Iraq is number one, Lebanon is number two, and Syria is number three.”

The experts conceded that the Trump administration had done more to help Middle East Christians than his predecessor, but they argued that Christians are far from protected and more can be done.

 

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