Muslim Cleric Honored For Hiding 262 Christians During Attacks

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As religious freedom is a core American value, the U.S. Department of State should present an annual award for brave acts in upholding religious freedom everywhere in the world.

Muslim Cleric Honored For Hiding 262 Christians During Attacks

Photo by US Embassy in Nigeria


As religious freedom is a core American value, the U.S. Department of State should present an annual award for brave acts in upholding religious freedom everywhere in the world.


In 2019, one of the five people honored with the International Religious Freedom Award is Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, the Muslim religious leader who selflessly risked his own life to save Christians that would have likely been killed without his intervention.


Violent attacks in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau State between farmers in central Nigeria that are predominantly Christian, and nomadic herders that are mostly Muslim dates back to 2013.


However, in June 2018, the herdsmen launched deadly coordinated attacks in ten villages which killed hundreds of ethnic Berom farmers. Amidst the mayhem, the 83-year-old Imam demonstrated “true courage, selflessness, and brotherly love” since he protected human lives, despite religious differences.


While Imam Abdullahi was finishing midday prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the town’s Christian community fleeing. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 of them into the mosque and his home next door.


Then he went outside to confront the gunmen. When the attackers asked him about their whereabouts, the cleric “refused to give them up.”


Even though over 80 people were killed in Nghar village that day, Imam Abdullahi’s actions saved the lives of hundreds more.


After living in Nghar for sixty years and leading the Muslim community in a mosque that was built on land provided by the Christian community, Abdullahi’s courage and his history of outreach across religious divides shows his lifelong commitment to promoting interfaith understanding and peace.

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Thinking Humanity: Muslim Cleric Honored For Hiding 262 Christians During Attacks
Muslim Cleric Honored For Hiding 262 Christians During Attacks
As religious freedom is a core American value, the U.S. Department of State should present an annual award for brave acts in upholding religious freedom everywhere in the world.
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