Persecution Watchdogs Contest Media Reports on Nigeria Violence

Persecution watchdogs are setting the record straight regarding the recent slaughter of Christians in Nigeria.

While some media have painted the violence as revenge for a January attack by Christians on a Muslim village, International Christian Concern argues otherwise.

Kuru Karama was never a Muslim village, ICC stated Friday.

Some of the houses that were burned in January were the homes of Christians and some of the bodies found dead were Christian, the group reported.

"So it was not a massacre of 150 Muslims by Christians," ICC asserted.

"The fact that [the January attack] is now being used to stoke up hatred… I think those who, first of all, came up with that story, need to go back to the whole source and correct what they said."

The Anglican archbishop of Jos, the Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, told ICC this week that there has been "misreporting by the Western media to damage the good image of the church."

"What the media is reporting is as if the church was killing Muslims," he said.

But the violence began with a calculated attack on the church, he explained.

Recalling the January violence, Kwashi said it was a Sunday when Christians were all in church worshipping. One man was building a house and recruited over 200 young men to help him. In the process, Kwashi recounted, those men – in a preplanned attack – disrupted church worship services and began attacking Christians with guns and machetes.

The Christians dispersed and were pursued as they ran to their homes.

"Some people, in defense of their homes and families and children, fought them back," the archbishop said. "What followed after that was mayhem on both sides."

Following that mayhem, three predominantly Christian villages near Jos were attacked by machete-wielding Muslim extremists on March 7. Though police say a little more than 100 were killed, persecution watchdogs including ICC say up to 500 were left dead. Less than two weeks after that, another wave of violence struck two Christian villages. About a dozen were killed.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has launched an investigation of the violence.

Some of the possible motives the media has named include revenge, fighting over farmland, or fighting for control of the city of Jos.

ICC's regional manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, commented, "We are deeply saddened by the latest jihad attack against defenseless Christians in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the media and politicians wrongly label the attacks as ethnic violence instead of telling the truth about the ruthless Islamic jihad attack that is bent on driving Christians from northern Nigeria."

The country's population is nearly equally divided between Muslims, who dominate the north, and Christians who live mainly in the south.

Another persecution watchdog, Open Doors, has also pointed out that in the incident against Christians early this month, the villagers of Dogo Nahawa who were attacked had nothing to do with the January violence.

The attacks took place despite a curfew and the deployment of military personnel and police to keep the peace. Some attackers were allegedly wearing military uniforms – uniforms that had been issued specifically so that real soldiers could be distinguished from fake ones.

According to ICC, Christians in Nigeria have lost confidence in the security forces.

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