Boko Haram is the foremost perpetrator of religiously motivated violence in Nigeria, claims a new report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The report, issued Aug. 19 as an update to a July 2012 report, documents dozens of Boko Haram attacks on churches and individual Christians since January 2012 that have killed at least 532 people. Attacks on critical Muslim leaders and other “un-Islamic” groups have killed a further 134 people. The actual numbers likely are larger, the report notes, because only those incidents for which the militant Islamist group claimed responsibility are documented.
Earlier in August, the International Criminal Court said a “reasonable basis” exists to conclude Boko Haram has committed crimes against humanity in Nigeria.
The USCIRF update claims Boko Haram’s “misuse” of faith is increasingly putting religion at the center of Nigerian violence, and that government toleration has created environment of impunity. The commission, an an advisory body to the U.S. Congress, urges an American policy that acknowledges the centrality of religion to Nigeria’s unrest, in order to more effectively support Abuja and Nigeria’s religious leaders.