Nigeria (MNN) — A recent Boko Haram attack in northern Nigeria is raising red flags. Open Doors CEO and President David Curry explains, “When you see tactics like they used here–dressing up like military, big assaults on towns that are coordinated that are strategic in their choice of location, this just shows their growing sophistication.”
Dozens of Boko Haram fighters dressed in military colors reportedly raided a village in northeast Nigeria earlier this week. They shot villagers trying to escape and burned homes, ultimately destroying 70% of the town and leaving behind a death toll of 51.
“We’re talking about a massive attack here that went basically unstopped; the government didn’t show up for hours,” Curry notes.
For nearly five years, the Islamic terror sect Boko Haram has been on the hunt for Christians. They’ve killed thousands of people in their pursuit and at least 800 Christ-followers. They’ll apparently stop at nothing to make Nigeria an Islamic nation.
“The northern part has been hit very hard by this Islamic extremism; essentially, it’s dividing the country.”
In a separate incident on Wednesday afternoon, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan fired four of his top cabinet members. When asked if the move was related to Tuesday’s attack, Curry notes, “There has to be some price to be paid.
“Whether it’s going to be fall-out to the president himself or to his cabinet, that’s the political question. We’re looking at it as a very unstable situation, and we’re fearful that Christians are not being protected.”
Political overtones to Nigeria’s violence, or “regime influences,” as Curry calls them, make the issue more complicated than Muslim-vs-Christian. Essentially, the current situation revolves around control of the nation.
“Who owns the presidency? Is it going to be a Christian individual? Is it going to be an Islamic individual?” asks Curry rhetorically.
“The extremists are trying to put down Christianity because they see it as a threat. They want to impose Sharia law, which would basically force out any other faith.”
Freedom to choose
While Muslim and Christians battle for control of Nigeria, Curry says Open Doors wants their namesake to characterize the nation.
“We want people to study the words of Jesus, if they so choose. We want people to have the freedom to decide for themselves who they’re going to follow, what their faith will be,” he states.
“We want people to have the freedom to go to church.”
In January, Boko Haram attacked believers nearly every Sunday. That’s not the only place believers are targeted, though. Christians are also attacked in their homes, at the workplace, on farms, and while traveling on highways. Two years ago, Boko Haram demanded that all Christ-followers leave or be removed.
Open Doors seeks to support those who remain.
“In Nigeria, we want to support people who have been injured, we want to help rebuild churches; we want to do anything we can to support Christians,” says Curry.
“There’s a real gap between what’s happening around the world and the knowledge of that here in the West,” Curry notes. “We need to be praying for these folks, we need to be lifting them up; we need to be supporting them.”