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Fr. Fidelis: Little is spoken about structural and systematic persecution in Nigeria

 Fr. Fidelis is from the diocese of Maiduguri in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria. It’s among the most affected by extremist groups like Boko Haram and a branch of ISIS known as ISWAP.

In an online panel on preventing genocide, combating religious persecution and protecting religious rights, Fr. Fidelis shared the story of a girl who watched her father’s beheading and was kidnapped months later by the people responsible.

Diocese of Maiduguri
“One of the things that was drummed into her head, ‘We will do this to you and to so many other Christian girls unless you always agree to convert to Islam.’ FLASH So in Nigeria, there is bloody persecution, there is a structural and systematic persecution, where we are denied lands, denied opportunities and our people are being killed. Little is spoken about that.”

That’s why Fr. Fidelis proposed raising awareness, encouraging dialogue with government leaders and creating opportunities for vulnerable groups as ways to fight religious persecution.

It was an idea supported by Mrza Dinnayi, a Yazidi activist. He called for further reforms of international law to more effectively promote peaceful coexistence and prevent genocide.

Director of Luftbrücke Irak
“I think that the forms of international law and old international customs that we have are not protecting. How many more examples should we wait for until we understand that this is not protecting and preventing genocide and war crimes?”

Both participated in the online event organized by the Armenian Embassies to Italy and to the Holy See, in collaboration with Stand Together. Other speakers included the vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, Paolo Formentini, freelance journalist and expert on the situation in Armenia, Simone Zopellaro, and Armenian Ambassadors Tsovinar Hambardzumyan and Garen Nazarian.