Despite the brutal repercussions of being a Christian in northern Nigeria, Muslims are said to be converting to Christianity in droves. According to the new study, over 10,000 Christians have been killed in this region within the past five years.
Even though the media seems to be disproportionately focused on the plight of Christian minorities in the Middle East as they face the brunt of ISIS' hatred, 11,500 Christians in Northern Nigeria have been killed in the name of their religion for the past five years, based on the report by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Sadly, the growing number is not given enough attention lately, even though Nigeria has already been hailed as one of the most dangerous places to be Christian. Apart from Christians killed, 13,000 churches have also been destroyed. With their lives and faith threatened, 1.3 million Christians found themselves needing to flee to safer areas of the country.
The report detailed what most Christians experience as a daily occurrence in Northern Nigeria.
"Many Christians say they face harassment, hatred, marginalization, intimidation and violence," the report detailed "They have very limited freedom to worship and to build churches. They have no real voice in public media, have hardly any access to government positions for employment and are barely represented in local politics. Young Christians feel discrimination at school."
Despite these scary testaments of the Christians, the report revealed that a growing number of Muslims in the same region want to become Christians. Many Muslims claimed they dreamt of Jesus. While the desire is there to convert, many are not free to voice out their desire, let alone act on it.
"Many among the Muslims want to become Christians, but they are afraid of being killed or pressured by fellow Muslims," the report claimed.
The CAN, which currently stands as Nigeria's largest confederation of churches, promised to revive the Church in northern Nigeria. The association vowed to do everything it takes to do it, both by grassroots action and by advocacy. It is also calling for the international community to help ease the plight of Christians who feel forsaken by the rest of the world.
According to Lisa Pearce, the chief executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland, the situation in Nigeria is really "radical" even though its constitution puts forward that "religion freedom" should be observed.
"For decades, Christians in the region have suffered marginalisation and discrimination as well as targeted violence. This is happening not only in the Sharia states of the Far North where the pressure of Islam is hard felt, but also in the non-Sharia Middle Belt states where Sharia has not been formally implemented," she said.