Last year, rampaging Fulani herdsmen murdered no less than 80 people in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State, Nigeria. But it could’ve been worse had an unlikely hero not stepped in.
It was around this time last year when a band of barbaric Fulani herdsmen believed to be Muslims went on a mindless slaughtering spree in the Barkin Ladin area of Plateau State, northern Nigeria, leaving multiple bodies in their wake.
By the time they were done perpetuating their evil and carrying out their dastardly attacks, as many as 80 people had been massacred. And as disheartening as it already sounds, it could have been worse if not for the efforts of an unlikely hero.
Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, an eighty-three-year-old Islamic cleric, has just been honored by the United States government for a very heroic and selfless act which saw him almost give up his own life when he tried to keep hundreds of Christians from harm.
In a country where Muslims and Christians are quite identical in number, religious violence is still a big problem as various cases of ethnoreligious friction still make headlines. And June of last year was a particularly ugly episode.
But if not for Imam Abubakar, it would’ve probably been a much higher body count. At the height of the mindless massacre, he hid hundreds of Christians fleeing attacks from Muslim herdsmen in his mosque and his home. The cleric refused to surrender the Christians faithfuls when their attackers asked about their whereabouts and even offered to exchange his own life for theirs.
The 83-year-old Nigerian Muslim cleric hid 262 Christians from rampaging killers and he has just bagged the International Religious Freedom Award for his bravery in the face of imminent danger. He managed to protect the Christians and talk the bloodthirsty attackers out of their dastardly mission.
Imam Abubakar Abdullahi of Nigeria selflessly risked his own life to save members of another religious community, who would have likely been killed without his intervention. He is 1 of the advocates @SecPompeo is honoring at the #IRFAwards. #IRFMinisterial https://t.co/1Gj8p3YWFq
— U.S. Asia Pacific Media Hub (@eAsiaMediaHub) July 17, 2019
Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, along with four other religious leaders from Sudan, Iraq, Brazil, and Cyprus, is the recipient of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Award, which is awarded to advocates of religious freedom.
Abdullahi was recognized for his bravery in providing shelter to hundreds of Christians fleeing attacks from Muslim herdsmen who had launched coordinated attacks on Christian farmers in 10 villages in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau State on June 23, 2018.
The cleric refused to give up the Christian faithfuls when their attackers asked about their whereabouts, International Religious Freedom Ambassador, Sam Brownback, said at the awards ceremony in Washington on Wednesday.
“The imam gave refuge to his Christian neighbors, sheltering 262 Christians in his mosque and his home…. then stood outside the doors confronting the Muslim attackers, pleading with them to spare the lives of the Christians inside, even offering to exchange his own life for theirs,” Brownback said.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has also extended a word of praise to the Islamic cleric for the selfless act while congratulating him on the receipt of the award. His actions bear witness to true courage, true selflessness, and true brotherly love. And the world could use more of his kind.
Featured Image Courtesy: ng.usembassy.gov