President Trump met with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari Monday morning, and in the meeting he reportedly spoke out against the African nation’s recent conflict between the militant Fulani herdsmen and the nation’s Christians. (h/t Christianity Today)
“We are deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches and the killing and persecution of Christians,” Trump said in a joint press conference with Buhari. “We encourage Nigeria and the federal state and local leaders to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths including Muslims and including Christians.”
Buhari’s administration is facing a wide range of violence. Nigeria sees attacks already from ISIS and Boko Haram, but the Fulani herdsmen have outpaced both groups to become the deadliest force in the West African nation.
Last week, the herdsmen attacked a Catholic mass, killing 19 people and burning dozens of homes. Hundreds of Christians have been killed this year by the Fulani.
Buhari has faced a lot of criticism for his inaction in the midst of this crisis. The council of Nigerian Catholic bishops have called for his resignation, and they’ve criticized security agencies for likewise failing to protect Christian churches and villages. Most of the violence comes in Central Nigeria, where the Christian-majority South and the Muslim-majority North come into friction.
Trump didn’t mention the Fulani by name in his statements, but he did acknowledge the violence. Activist groups like Open Doors and the Jubilee Campaign are calling for the president to take a firm stance against the Fulani and other groups like them. Buhari is the first sub-Saharan African leader to visit the Trump White House.