Stephen Rasche, RFI’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom in Conflict Regions, was recently interviewed on National Catholic Register’s “Religious Freedom Matters” podcast to discuss how Islamic extremism is the unacknowledged root of violence against Christians in Nigeria. Throughout the interview, Rasche discusses the abuses Nigerian Christians are suffering due to religious prejudice, and the Western world’s lack of understanding of the situation.
Rasche argued that while most governments try to attribute the violence in Nigeria to climate issues, the root of the abuse that everyone seems unwilling to face is religious persecution:
And you see it in Nigeria, where no one in the West — including the US Government and the UN — nobody wants to address the fact that at the root of much of this violence in the north is Islamist-based violence that wants to remove these Christians forcibly. It clearly exists. It’s not something new. It’s been going on for at least 100 years, and we don’t want to address it for what it is. We don’t want to call it for what it is: violence by Islamist groups against Christians.
He compares it to the plight of Christians in Iraq, saying, “You could call it anything you want — you could call it extremist violence that was driven by climate change or anything like that — but what you could not call it was Islamist persecution against minorities.”
Despite these struggles, Rasche describes the bright light the Nigerian Christians shine, saying, “I have never seen a church in my life where there is more joy on a daily basis. The Masses are just overflowing — not only with people, but with joyous people.”
Listen to the full interview: “Facing the Root of Violence in Nigeria: Islamic Extremism.”