Missionary in Africa: Anti-Christian Sentiment Growing in Niger

Fr. Mauro Armanino Says Boko Haram Invasion Spurs Attacks Against Christians in the Country

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While several African countries have joined forces to combat the onslaught of Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, a missionary in Niger says local Christians are fearing for their lives.

The terrorist organization, which has wreaked havoc in Nigeria, brought their war to neighboring Niger, attacking the border city of Diffa. Niger’s Parliament approved the country’s participation in a Task Force that will combat Boko Haram. The task force includes Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Benin.

In an interview with Fides, Fr. Mauro Armanino, a missionary of the Society of African Missions (SMA) said that despite government efforts, locals in Diffa are fleeing as well as tensions against Christians are on the rise.

«Indeed, there is growing concern in people» he said. «The attacks carried out by Boko Haram creates a feeling of growing impatience towards any presence which is not a form of Islam».

«In Niger ,» he explained, «Islam which before was based on Sufism, faced with the explosive social situation, due to the thousands of young people with no future, is affected by the preaching and the funds of those who have an extremist vision of religion.»

The missionary said that attacks against several Churches and Catholic missions were carried out during riots in January.

«The real news is the extent of the unrest and the fury with which the crowd acted,» he concluded. «[It is] a sign of a growing feeling of anti-Christianity»

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