Why Americans Should Worry about Religious Persecution in Nigeria: A Conversation with Eric Patterson


In a recent interview with managing editor for Providence, Mark Melton, RFI Executive Vice President Eric Patterson speaks about increasing religious violence in Nigeria and why Americans should pay attention to these alarming developments. Patterson’s remarks touch upon key points he raised in a recent article on this subject, published in Providence in April.

Addressing the question of why Nigeria matters, Patterson emphasizes that Nigeria is the strategic anchor of West Africa. Unfortunately, however, corruption and violence are endemic in Nigeria, with terrorism and ethno-religious violence tearing the country apart.

Patterson identifies two trends of violence as notable. First, Christians in Nigeria are facing increased attacks from Fulani herdsman due to competition over resources in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. Additionally, extremist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa are targeting Christians with violence. Second, these extremist groups are also attacking moderate Muslims in Nigeria’s north, pushing the area towards further radicalization and instability. 

Patterson emphasizes that religious violence could lead to the destabilization of Nigeria or, in the worst case scenario, civil war, which would be devastating for the region. Alluding to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and subsequent Second Congo War, a serious outbreak of violence in Nigeria could lead to millions dead and a decade or more of fighting throughout the region. 

Watch the full interview: Why Americans Should Worry about Religious Persecution in Nigeria: A Conversation with Eric Patterson.

Read Patterson’s recent article: Violence against Nigerian Christians Risks Destabilizing West Africa.