A Three years old girl and 9 others died in north-western Nigeria’s Kaduna State in an early morning attack on a Christian village carried out by armed Muslim herdsmen of Fulani origin, according to a report.
The girl, identified as Elizabeth Samaila, suffered multiple machete lacerations to the head. She died in a hospital Thursday, the day after the attack on the Tudun Agwalla community in Kajuru Local Government Area, the U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported.
Also on Thursday, families of nine others who were hacked to death with machetes buried them in a mass grave. Six of the nine were identified as Richard Yusuf, Kefas Yusuf, Fidelis Wada, Kachia, Genesis Soja, and Rahab Soja.
Eight-year-old Rita Friday, who was also injured on the head, was among an unknown number of Christian villagers who were wounded in the attack, CSW said, adding that seven people remained unaccounted for.
“What is particularly unacceptable is that her death is the latest to occur in a series of attacks which continue unabated,” CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said. “Southern Kaduna is steadily being transformed into killing fields, either due to a gross failure of governance, or official indifference and acquiescence.”
Fulani herders routinely brutally attack predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. While some believe the nomadic herders launch attacks as they look for grazing pastures, the radicals target Christian villages in a similar manner as the Boko Haram terror group that terrorizes the northern regions of the country.
In a special report, titled “Nigeria: A Killing Field of Defenseless Christians,” released earlier this year, the Anambra-based nongovernmental organization International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law estimated that about 11,500 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since 2015 by Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram, and highway bandits.
A recent estimate by Intersociety suggests that over 620 Christians have been killed in Nigeria so far in 2020.
“International pressure must now be brought to bear on both the state and federal authorities to ensure protection for these vulnerable communities, and that effective action is taken to disarm all armed non-state actors and bring the perpetrators of these horrific atrocities to justice,” Thomas said.
Last year, two members from the Adara community, a majority Christian ethnic group in Southern Kaduna state, were among other Nigerians who shared their experiences during a panel event sponsored by the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation.
“Right now my tribe is nonexistent legally,” Alheri Magaji, the daughter of the leader of the Adara Chiefdom, said. “Part of the reason why I am here is to try to get my land back. That is who I am. That is my identity. That is what makes me. My people are stranded. They are literally sleeping under the skies on the floor with no houses, no food, nothing. It is not about relief materials and how much we can donate. It’s about holding the government accountable.”
“I spoke to a woman whose limbs were cut off. She had four kids and was nine months pregnant,” Magaji recalled. “Fulani herdsmen came to a Kajuru town in February, about 400 of them with AK-47s. They came at around 6:30 a.m. They spoke Adara. They came in with war songs. They were singing songs that translate into ‘the owners of the land have come. It’s time for settlers to leave.’
“We have 2-month-old babies, 6-month-old babies, babies in the bellies turned from their mother’s womb and slaughtered like animals, like chickens,” she said. “We are here today to beg the U.S. government and for the world to hear our story.”
Nigeria was added to the U.S. State Department’s “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom and is ranked as the 12th-worst country in the world for Christian persecution by Open Doors USA.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York’s Restrictions On Religious Gatherings
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released just before midnight on Wednesday.
The decision marked a major shift for the court, in essence at least a partial reversal of previous rulings, as well as a clear indication of the court’s dramatic move to the right with the addition of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Earlier this year, while Ginsburg was still on the court, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who cast the critical fifth vote to uphold a similar order from governors in California and Nevada.
This time, Roberts was in the minority, noting that the New York rules at issue in the case had already been eased.
The newly constituted majority, however, rejected Roberts’ deferential approach, noting that New York could impose the strict orders again at any time.
“The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the unsigned majority decision said. “Even in a pandemic, the constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
The New York rules imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo restricted attendance at religious services in areas classified as “red” or “orange” zones. In red zones, no more than 10 people were permitted to attend each service, and in orange zones, attendance was capped at 25.
Those rules, which the court majority found to be “severe” and “inflexible,” did not apply to retail stores in the same neighborhoods, the decision said. In an “orange” zone, where secular businesses are subject to no attendance cap at all, the discrimination was “even starker,” the court said.
The justices in the majority, in addition to Barrett, were Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Gorsuch filed an unusually acerbic concurring opinion, blasting not only Governor Cuomo but also Chief Justice Roberts for his earlier opinion in the California and Nevada cases.
Referring to the more lax rules for New York retailers, Gorsuch opined that “at least according to Governor Cuomo, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” a reference to acupuncture being unregulated.
And when it came to Roberts, Gorsuch spent several pages accusing him of “rewriting history” in his dissenting opinion on Wednesday and his earlier opinions in the California and Nevada cases.
“In the end,” said Gorsuch, while Roberts and the other dissenters may wish to “stay out of the way” and let state officials and experts deal with the crisis of a pandemic, “we may not shelter in place where the Constitution is under attack.” There is, he wrote, “no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Roberts replied with a slap-down of his own. Quoting from Gorsuch’s acid dismissal of the dissenters’ views, the Chief Justice said he did not regard his dissenting colleagues with such venom: “They simply view the matter differently after careful study and reflecting their best efforts to fulfill their responsibility under the Constitution.”
As to Gorsuch’s concurrence, which, as Roberts put it, “takes aim at my [earlier] concurring opinion,” Gorsuch had engaged in such overkill that he spent “three pages” criticizing one sentence.
And “what did that sentence say?” asked Roberts. “Only that our Constitution principally entrusts the safety and health of the people to the politically accountable officials of the states to guard and protect.”
Those words, said Roberts, “should be uncontroversial, and the Gorsuch concurrence must reach beyond the words themselves to find the target it is looking for.”
That earlier opinion involved rules that were not as strict as the New York rules. The California church limited attendance to 100 people. In buildings with a capacity of 400 or fewer people, capacity was limited to 25%. In Nevada, churches were limited to 50 people.
On Nov. 12, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America asked the court for temporary injunctions against the New York governor’s executive order.
The synagogues said Cuomo’s order “singled out a particular religion for blame and retribution” for the uptick in coronavirus cases.
The court granted the temporary injunctive relief until the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in December — and then the Supreme Court as appropriate — can more fully consider the merits of the case. But the majority said that challengers, as of now, have a good chance of prevailing if they get to the Supreme Court again.
It’s unclear how the case will proceed. New York’s Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood recently informed the court that recent changes to the policies in question meant none of the diocese’s churches or the area’s synagogues would any longer be subject to the restrictions.
Cuomo described Wednesday’s decision as a political statement. In his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, he said, “Look, I’m a former altar boy, Catholic, Catholic grammar school, Catholic high school, Jesuits at college. So I fully respect religion and if there’s a time in life when we need it, the time is now. But we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time, and that’s the balance we’re trying to hit, especially in this holiday season.”
Indonesian Terrorist Burns Down Church and Christian Homes, Killing Four
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 27, an alleged terrorist attacked the Salvation Army’s service post in central Sulawesi, before burning six houses of church members. Four Christians were murdered, with three being butchered.
Around 8 a.m., the Lewonu Lembantongoa Service Post, located in Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, set up as an outreach effort by the Salvation Army in Indonesia (Bala Keselamatan), was attacked by the alleged terrorist.
He set the church on fire, before attacking Captain Arnianto, Mrs. Mpapa, Lieutenant Abram Kako and his wife and burning down six houses of the church members. Out of the four victims, three were hacked to death, while the other was burned.
In the video seen by ICC, the charred victim was pulled from a pile of ruins, with smoke still rising in the background. The fowler position of the body suggests the agony and pain endured by the victim before death.
Lemban Tongoa is located in the forest, where access of information and transportation is limited. ICC will continue to follow up to learn more about the details of the attack. The Salvation Army is asking for prayers “for the family of the victims, for the church, and for the peace of the region.”
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “ICC mourns the death of the Indonesian brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered by the alleged terrorist. We urge the Indonesian government to take necessary measures to hold him accountable and put him to justice. Such senseless act cannot be tolerated in the country that boasts ‘Pancasila,’ the state ideology which promotes religious harmony and tolerance.”
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York’s Restrictions On Religious Gatherings
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas...
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