Benjamin Watson Urges Racial Justice Advocates in US to Fight for Christians in Nigeria

Benjamin Watson speaks at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on the violence in Nigeria on Sept. 16, 2020. | Screenshot: Zoom/ICON
Benjamin Watson speaks at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on the violence in Nigeria on Sept. 16, 2020. | Screenshot: Zoom/ICON

Former NFL tight end and outspoken Christian, Benjamin Watson, is calling on Americans fighting for racial justice in the U.S. to also call for an end to violence against Christians in Nigeria, as activists warn the world might be ignoring a possible genocide.

Watson, 39, who announced his retirement earlier this year after 16 seasons in the NFL, participated in a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C., where he sat next to former Democratic presidential candidate and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to speak out against the violence perpetrated by Fulani radicals and extremist groups like Boko Haram.

Hosted by the International Committee on Nigeria, the event was designed to raise awareness of the violence experienced by Christian communities in Nigeria as estimates suggest that millions of people have been displaced and thousands have been killed in recent years due to extremist violence taking place in the northeast and violence carried out by herding radicals against predominantly Christian farming communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.

“I am here for many of the same reasons that everyone else is,” Watson explained. “I can remember several years ago it being impressed upon me that the Body of Christ here in the United States is dealing with our own issues. But compared to what is going on around the world in many respects, we need people that stand up for those who are being persecuted. At some time, it may be us.”

The event, which also featured remarks from other human rights advocates, comes after thousands across the U.S. took to the streets nationwide this summer to demonstrate against police brutality after the death of African American George Floyd who died in Minneapolis police custody and other African Americans this year. More than 20 people have been killed during Black Lives Matter protests, some of which have turned into violent riots and arson attacks that have caused $2 billion in damage to local businesses in cities across the U.S.

“We are in a time of racial reckoning in our county,” Watson stressed. “The term racial justice is thrown around a lot. But if we are sincerely concerned about justice, we must understand that justice must be advocated for at home, yes, but also abroad.”

Watson, who has been vocal about racial issues in the U.S. and even authored the 2015 book Under Our Skin, challenged those “who care about racial and social justice” issues and are “fighting for the equality of black citizens” in the U.S. to “remember and advocate for justice in the homeland.”

“This time of reckoning, as important as it is for all of us here in the United States, shouldn’t be limited to our shores as injustice persists,” Watson urged. “Every little bit helps.”

The football player, who has spoken out about many injustices over the years, including abortion and sex trafficking, explained that he was first made aware of what was happening in northeast Nigeria with Boko Haram’s insurgency when militants abducted 276 female Christian students from a school in Chibok, Borno state, in 2014.

“We can remember the hashtag of #BringBackOurGirls filling our timelines. We remember even the first lady of the United States and celebrities even tweeting about this,” Watson recalled. “Now today, six years later, more than 100 of those girls are still missing. The hashtags and social media campaigns have ceased, but for many of those friends and families and communities, their lives have not been forgotten.”

The Super Bowl XXXVIII champion explained that while the abduction of the Chibok girls captured the hearts of the world, it was “just one of thousands of killings and kidnappings, razing of entire communities and burning of churches that have happened at a genocidal rate for the last 20 years.”

“It is not only Boko Haram,” he said. “Most recently, it is Fulani herdsman who have largely operated with impunity and have targeted and attacked Christian communities.”

“The killing in the region is greater than that committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria combined,” Watson added, repeating a statistic mentioned earlier in the conference.

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Source: Christian Post