A suicide bomber driving an SUV full of explosives crashed into a Catholic church in a Christian minority enclave of Nigeria during Mass yesterday, killing ten congregants and wounding at least 145.
The attack on the St. Rita Catholic Church in Kaduna is believed to have been the work of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan declared the attack and the group’s ongoing militancy an “unfortunate and unacceptable trend that threatens the peace and stability of our nation.”
Since 2009, Boko Haram has staged a series of attacks on Christians and churches in the Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna, killing more than 2,800 people, including many Muslims.
This latest bombing sparked violent reprisals from youth of the Christian minority, who are taking matters into their own hands in the face of grave danger.
Sadly, the ongoing war against Christians in Nigeria is part and parcel of a larger wave of violent persecution spreading against Christian minority groups in Muslim-majority countries in Africa, the Middle East region, and South Asia. In Egypt, Christian Copts are fighting for their very survival.Palestinian Christians face forced conversions to Islam in the radical-Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.
In August, a Pakistani imam framed a 14-year-old Christian girl based on the bogus charge that she engaged in “blasphemy” against Islam because she allegedly burned pages of the Koran.
The Islamic world is immersed in an epidemic of persecution against Christians.
In contrast to the Obama administration, Governor Mitt Romney says he would tie U.S. foreign assistance to progress in combating terrorism. “We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment and that of our friends — we should coordinate it to make sure that we — we push back and give them more economic development,” said Romney last week.
The U.S. could also follow Canada’s lead in ratcheting up the pressure on Iran over its persecution of minorities. In a speech to 1,400 lawmakers in Quebec City last week, Canadian foreign minister John Baird said that Bahais and Christians in Iran were “consistently threatened with death and torture, simply for believing.”
He added that Iran’s rulers are stoking hatred against Jews and funding terrorists. “The evil regime in Iran . . . remains the most significant threat to global peace and security,” he said.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, the attorneywho helped free Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastorsentenced to death for apostasy in September, has also been jailed, and now languishes in a notorious Iranian prison alongside scores of dissidents.
The time is ripe to make the Iranian human-rights crisis as important as the nuclear-weapons crisis.
If the U.S. will not judge states by their treatment of minority populations, who will?
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.