Islamist extremist violence has led to more than 900 deaths and many injured in the past few years under the Christian population in the northern part of Nigeria. This alarming situation triggered Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Belder and Dodds to undertake action. The violent acts towards Christians are committed by Boko Haram, an Islamist organization linked to Al Shabaab and Al Qaida and which main goal is to cleanse the area from Christians and to establish a sharia-rule based Islamist state.
In order to bring the situation of Christians in Nigeria to the attention of the European Parliament a seminar was organized today by Dutch MEP Bastiaan Belder and UK MEP Diane Dodds in cooperation with the Dutch NGO SDOK.
One of the invited Nigerian guest speakers was Zingak Deshi, Program Officer for the Nigerian NGO Voice of the Christian Martyrs Nigeria (VOCM). He described the worrying situation in the north where Christians are discriminated, suppressed and persecuted. "Boko Haram wants to eliminate Christians everywhere and they do it systematically", according to Deshi. This was painfully illustrated by another guest, Habila Adamu, who was attacked in his house by extremists last November. The attackers shot him through his head when he didn't want to convert to Islam, but he survived in a miraculous way, being the only survivor in his neighborhood.
Zingak Deshi hasn't much trust in the Nigerian government as there is a widespread assumption that Boko Haram supporters are working in the government.
According to Deshi, this results in a lot of injustice in the African country. Committers of violence are arrested but often released within two months without a fair trial. This was also emphasized by Isaac Newton, director of VOCM who clearly appealed to the Members of European Parliament to undertake action in order to make a diplomatic issue of the situation and to accuse Boko Haram of genocide. "If we do nothing, the situation will get out of hand and Boko Haram will possibly spread its destructive influence to the south and west of Nigeria", Newton states.
Ms Dodds and Mr Belder, together with other attending MEPs, promised the Nigerian guests to undertake action towards High Representative Catherine Ashton and to bring the issue under the attention of the European Parliament by means of a debate and resolution.