Nigeria (MNN) — Violence erupted in northern Nigeria on Friday. In the state of Bauchi, extremists attacked a pastor and several other Christians, burning down homes and shops. The incident started after an allegedly blasphemous social media post.
It follows the murder of a Christian student, Deborah Samuel, for blasphemy earlier this month.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says false charges of blasphemy are increasingly being used against Christians. Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says, “They are saying some of the same things that Christians in Pakistan say. ‘Hey, this is just an excuse for violence. This is just an excuse for revenge.’ You can say anybody said something blasphemous, and then instantly they are attacked. There’s no chance for them to say, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t say that.’”
“It is almost a death sentence to be accused of blasphemy.”
The murder of Deborah Samuel drew widespread condemnation. Two men will face charges for her death.
But will justice be done? Nettleton says, “We’ve seen situations in Pakistan where someone was arrested, and then they didn’t get convicted or the charges didn’t stick. So I think we have to watch. I hope the international community will watch closely what is happening. Hopefully, there is justice because that will send a message.”
How to pray
Ask God to protect Nigerian Christians and give them wisdom. They have a lot to navigate, Nettleton says, “Even in conversations. In this case [with Deborah Samuel] it was a WhatsApp group about a class. They need the wisdom to know what to say and how to respond.”
Pray also that their love will reveal Jesus to those who wish them harm.
The header photo shows a map of Nigeria with Bauchi State highlighted in red. (Photo courtesy of Himalayan Explorer based on work by Uwe Dedering, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)