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International Christian Concern, headquartered in Washington, D.C., published its new report this month detailing the suffering of hundreds of millions of Christians in the most heavily persecuted countries in the world.
"Religious persecution is mostly a hidden crisis," ICC president Jeff King contended, adding,
The masses know at some level that it exists "somewhere" but would be hard-pressed to cite any examples. Unfortunately, there are an estimated 200 to 300 million Christians who suffer persecution worldwide. I've served this targeted group for more than two decades and still wonder why there is no widespread outcry or outrage on their behalf.
At the top of the ICC's list of the 10 most persecuted countries is Nigeria, which the report argues is "the most dangerous place to be a Christian in the world today." The country's approximately 100 million Christians — nearly 50% of the population — live under constant threat of kidnapping, torture and murder.
Militants, mostly Muslim Fulani herdsmen, are responsible for much of the persecution directed at Christian farmers, compounded by inaction on the part of the Nigerian government to protect Christians.
The report disputes the narrative perpetrated by Nigerian leaders, with the help of mainstream media, who frame the persecution as "a complicated problem between herders and farmers with tribal overlays." It continues, "The truth is that we are witnessing a genocide of Christians in the North and Middle Belt, accompanied by an immense land grab."
Of the decades-long nightmare, King says,
The Nigerian government continues to turn a blind eye to the violence, aiding and abetting the ongoing genocide. No longer can this trend of violence be dismissed as a complicated, regional conflict over land rights. The government's inaction on the matter is inexcusable and the violence will only worsen unless the international community steps in.
Boko Haram, the terrorist jihadi group, is also cited in the report as one of the perpetrators of the persecution. It has, according to the ICC, "displaced millions of people, many of whom are Christians, and killed tens of thousands of others."
Conservative Islamic communities add to the misery. One-third of Nigeria's 36 states are ruled by Sharia law, where young Christian women are forced to marry Muslim men and Christians struggle to find employment.
The report calls out the U.S. government, which, despite the damning statistics, fails to designate Nigeria as a "country of particular concern." It argues that the lack of a CPC designation is tantamount to the United States communicating to the Nigerian government that it approves of the persecution, adding,
Whether the U.S. acknowledges the plight of Nigerian Christians or not, the fact remains the same: Nigeria has become a burial ground for believers of the Christian faith. Men, women, and children are brutally kidnapped, tortured, and killed every day.
King laments that the persecution has continued for decades with no signs of improvement in the 2023 report. He laments "the sound of crickets from the media" and the lack of "outrage" from the public at large.
His report also documented the persecution afflicting other countries, including Iran, China, Pakistan, North Korea and India. It identified these groups as among the worst persecutors of Christians: Allied Democratic Forces, Al-Shabab, Sahel Terror Groups, The Taliban and Tatmadaw (the Burmese Army).
Individuals such as Yogi Adityanath, Isaias Afwerki, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were called out as persecutors of Christians.