The repercussions of the deadly attack on Muslims in a mosque by a self-proclaimed white supremacist in Christchurch, New Zealand are reaching Nigeria.
Seemingly in response to global media coverage of the attack and the widening discussions of white supremacist attacks and movements, right-wing media platforms in the United States are increasingly referencing the killings of Christians in Nigerians.
To be clear, the reports on the spate of killings in the region are true (even though it’s typically difficult to verify death tolls in Nigeria). The conflicts have been going on intermittently for nearly three years and occasionally surface in international media. But attributing the attacks solely to religious persecution “is a misunderstanding of the actual problem,” says Cheta Nwanze, head researcher at SBM Intel, a Lagos-based intelligence firm that has analyzed conflict in northern Nigeria over the past three years.
“The pastoral conflict is, in reality, primarily a resource conflict [over land] but because it has gone on for so long it is beginning to metastasize and is taking the coloration of a religious and ethnic conflict where it originally was not,” he says. Amnesty International, in a report last December, also noted the root of the attacks lie in communal and pastoral clashes.
As previously reported, these conflicts had overtaken Boko Haram as Nigeria’s biggest internal security problem as of two years ago.
Indeed, Breitbart reports that its Rome bureau chief Thomas Williams “describes ‘mainstream media’s’ response to the massacring of Nigerian Christians as ‘silence’ in comparison to its approach towards last Friday’s mass murder of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.”
“Presumably they are trying to meet a demand signal from their readership for countervailing narratives that distract from the uptick in white nationalism worldwide that has occurred over the course of Trump’s tenure in office,” Page says.
Are you all going to pretend you would ever have considered the death of 120 black Nigerians newsworthy, if it did not serve in your mind as a narrative counterpoint the Christchurch story you are uncomfortable with?
Leave us out of your culture war. https://t.co/5BGkdeZoh5
— Chief orwelliANDYstopia (@andyRoidO) March 18, 2019
Indeed, during Nigeria’s president Buhari’s state visit to the US last May, Donald Trump claimed the US will be “working” on the “very serious problem” of murdered Christians in Nigeria. So far though, there’s very little evidence to suggest his statement was followed with action or that it was anything more than a populist play to rally his vast evangelical base.