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Kidnappings, forcible conversion ignite rampage in Nigeria

By May 22, 2008

Nigeria (MNN) — An Islamic
militant group recently kidnapped two Christian teenage girls in northern
Nigeria, with the intent of forcible conversion. Their rescue ignited a riot that destroyed
six churches in Bauchi State.

Bernie
Daniel with
Voice of the Martyrs Canada says this highlights a trend: "Kidnapping teenage Christian girls
by militant Muslims has become kind of a recurrent and ongoing practice. There are 13 Christian teenage girls who have
been abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and married to older Muslim men so
that their whereabouts are still unknown."

On May 12, 15-year-old Mary
Chikwodi Okoye and 14-year-old Uche
Edward were kidnapped by Muslims in Ningi for just that purpose. Police took the two girls, who had been under
foster care, to safety in southeastern Nigeria where their biological parents
live.

According to a Compass Direct
report, the day after the girls were rescued, Hisbah Command Muslims went on a
rampage, attacking Christians and setting fire to the churches. The Hisbah Command is a paramilitary arm of
Kano state's Sharia Commission, responsible for enforcing Islamic law.

When the dust settled, Deeper
Life Bible Church, St. Mary's Catholic Church, All Souls Anglican Church,
Church of Christ in Nigeria, Redeemed Christian Church of God, and the Redeemed
People's Mission were in ruins.

The pastor of Deeper Life Bible
Church says the violence has taken its toll on ministry, too. The congregation of
that church has shrunk to 40 people from the 130 who attended before the
attack.

Because this attack was carried
out by Hisbah Command, a paramilitary arm of Kano state's Sharia Commission, trouble
won't be ending in the foreseeable future. Northern Nigeria is predominantly
Muslim, and several of the states have adopted Sharia law for all civil cases.

But Daniel says the violence will have little
impact overall on the vibrancy of the church. 
"Nigeria is a nation where there is an active evangelism both in
the southern parts of the nation and also in the northern-dominated states.
Evangelism will continue. The church of Nigeria will continue to grow, despite
this opposition from Islamic militants."

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