As the world continues the mourn following the devastating mosque shootings Friday that killed 50 people and injured dozens more in Christchurch, New Zealand, an eerie hush has fallen over the media regarding the ongoing mass slaughter of Christians in Nigeria. CBN News reports that since February, at least “120 people have been killed in a series of alleged attacks by the Fulani militia on Christian communities … .” Last Monday alone, 52 people were killed and 100 homes destroyed in attacks on the Inkirimi and Dogonnoma villages, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
The global solidarity and stories of heroism that emerged in the wake of the anti-Muslim attacks in New Zealand have showcased the best of humanity. Christians, Muslims, conservatives and liberals condemned the merciless killing of innocent worshippers in their place of prayer, highlighting the eternal truth that every life has inherent dignity and value.
This is a narrative that all people of goodwill can get behind. The question that remains, then, is why the media wouldn’t choose to cover other instances of gross injustice with the same vigor?
“We are witnessing, and no doubt will witness, great shows of solidarity and grief, and rightly so,” writes Rod Lampard at The Caldron Pool. “But selective outrage only feeds self-interest.”
Joining the universal condemnation of Friday’s terror attack were leaders of countries known for their intense persecution of Christian citizens:
Shocked and strongly condemn the Christchurch, New Zealand, terrorist attack on mosques. This reaffirms what we have always maintained: that terrorism does not have a religion. Prayers go to the victims and their families.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2019
I strongly condemn the horrific Islamaphobic attack in #Christchurch, New Zealand against Muslim worshippers. We stand in solidarity with the New Zealand Government and the Muslim community as they overcome this ordeal. We must unite to defeat the evil of terror in all its forms.
— Mohamed Farmaajo (@M_Farmaajo) March 15, 2019
Iranians are deeply shocked and saddened by Christchurch terror today.
But we're not surprised.
Banned from travel to the US, and not allowed to abide by our faith if attending French schools, we Iranians know too well what bigotry and hatred of Islam augur.#EndIslamophobiaNow
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 15, 2019
These responses were hypocritical but not surprising. The media’s inconsistency in reporting instances of religious persecution, however, is deeply troubling. If every human life is equally valuable, and every act of murderous hatred equally condemnable, then the subjects of an attack shouldn’t determine whether coverage is warranted.
Global persecution of Christians
Islamist Fulani herdsmen killed thousands of Nigerian Christians last year, according to CBN. But how many are aware of this quiet, violent genocide?
In an interview with The Stream last year, an intelligence operative with over 20 years’ experience in the Islamic world conservatively estimated that roughly 20,000 people — mostly Christians — have been killed since Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who hails from the Fulani tribe, took office in 2015.
“Nigeria is now the deadliest place in the world to be a Christian,” human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe told CBN last year. “What we have is a genocide. They are trying to displace the Christians, they are trying to possess their land and they are trying to impose their religion on the so-called infidels and pagans who they consider Christians to be.”
In other parts of the world, Islamic State militants continue to target Christians. Just recently, Egyptians Christians commemorated the 2015 martyrdom of 21 faithful men who were gruesomely beheaded by ISIS. The Coptic Church in Egypt has officially recognized all of the men as martyrs and saints, with locals recounting numerous miracles attributed to the holy victims.
Back in January, the Islamic State launched an attack on a Filipino cathedral similar to what the world witnessed in New Zealand Friday, with the main difference being the sparse media coverage of the former. In a statement following the barbaric act in which 28 innocents were killed, ISIS said the bombing was carried out by “two knights of martyrdom” against a “crusader temple.”
It’s important to note that the reasons for why global Christian persecution receives less press are likely many. Sadly, one probable reason is that it has become so routine that it can be hard to keep up with. But keep up with it we must.
Responding to injustice
Terrorism, murder, racism and religious bigotry are evils that deserve our categorical condemnation. As we continue to reflect on the tragedy in New Zealand, let us resolve to fiercely denounce injustice wherever it lurks, remembering that every life — whether Muslim, Christian, black or white — is loved by a perfectly just God.
As we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, let us recall the will of our Lord, as reflected in Matthew 18:12-14:
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”