The result, Anagbe said, is that “the demography of the diocese of the state is gradually shrinking.”
Is the persecution in Nigeria a genocide?
Some Western politicians and media outlets posit that the crisis in Nigeria has been brought on by climate change, which they say is forcing nomadic Fulani herdsmen to fight with Christian farmers over scarce land. Anagbe, however, condemned this narrative as “lies and propaganda.” He said that the Fulani terrorists are motivated by hatred of Christianity first and foremost.
Anagbe told CNA that the attacks, which often kill hundreds at a time, are “targeted at Christian Indigenous groups in Nigeria” as “a way of eliminating this group of people who have the same faith from different places.” This, he said, is the very definition of a religious genocide.
“I keep asking how many mosques have been attacked versus Catholic churches? How many pastors and reverend fathers have been kidnapped versus imams?”
“They’re doing this systematically,” he said. “When you eliminate people who are not confrontational to you, who didn’t provoke you, and there’s no war, it’s an agenda they have to do.”
The agenda, Anagbe said, is the “extermination” of Christianity from Nigeria.
U.S. bishops looking into crisis in Nigeria
Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, head of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles, was also present at the breakfast with Anagbe. He said the U.S. bishops are concerned about the persecution in Nigeria.
As chairman of the U.S. bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee, Zaidan told CNA that the bishops have been keeping track of the persecution but that “it was good to hear firsthand from people living on the ground about the situation.”
“They say a picture is like a thousand words and the picture[s] we saw reveals a lot of things, the atrocities, the difficulties, and challenges our brothers and sisters live [through].”
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Zaidan said the Church in Nigeria “definitely” needs all kinds of support, “not just financial but political support and also solidarity as a Church.”
Zaidan also said that based on the testimony of Anagbe and other witnesses, the U.S. bishops “will assess” how to best respond to the crisis.
“We will go back and look at it and study it and see what’s the best avenue on how to handle situations like this,” he said.
“We’re blessed to live in this country where religious freedom is somewhat highly respected compared to other countries in the world. However, this is where we become lax. It’s good to open our eyes and our hearts and minds to all our brothers and sisters around the world and each one of us, in his and her own capacity, see what we can do for others, to think about them, support them, pray for them,” Zaidan said.