More Christians are killed in Nigeria for their faith than anywhere else in the world. Of the 5,621 people murdered worldwide in 2022 for their belief in Christ, almost nine in ten died in Nigeria, according to the charity Open Doors. On average, this equates to 14 Christians killed every single day last year in Nigeria. Many more Christians are being kidnapped, and there is little sign of this terrible violence ending any time soon.
Such horrifying figures are hard for us in the West to comprehend; we take freedom of religion – a protected right enshrined in law – for granted. But despite the unending and seemingly escalating cycle of persecution, few outside Nigeria seem to care.
The devastating reality for many Nigerians is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with 216.8 million people – just over half are Muslim, and there are 100 million Christians. Mass displacement of those fleeing violence could eventually lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in West Africa.
Already many Nigerians are choosing to leave their homes. There were more than 2.2 million internally displaced people (IDP) in Nigeria at the end of 2021, according to the UN. Others – driven out by attacks carried out by jihadist groups like Boko Haram – are leaving the country altogether.
Although Christians face the brunt of terror, they aren’t alone in living in fear. An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) report, Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide? Three Years On, released this week, details the horrific tide of violence sweeping Nigeria. It recounts the fate of a Sufi Muslim musician accused of blasphemy in Kano state: his family home was burned down, and he was found guilty of blasphemy, receiving the death sentence in 2020.