Christian Pilgrims From Nigeria Flock to Israel
Around 14,000 Christians from Nigeria have been transported to Israel this year on a pilgrimage “for moral and spiritual transformation,” the head of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission has announced.
John Kennedy Opara was speaking while addressing the last batch of pilgrims at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Abuja, as they prepared to fly to Israel.
“Christmas is all about the celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ and you people are going to celebrate him in his own birth place,” Opara said. “It is something that many people would love to celebrate in the Holy Land.”
Opara said that arrangements for a further pilgrimage to mark Easter in 2015 were already in place, and that 3,000 pilgrims had signed up so far.
Some of the pilgrims are residents of Kaduna state, where Christians are a minority and where Islamic Shari’a law prevails in Muslim majority areas. At the end of November, the governor of Kaduna, Ramalan Yero, was praised by Opara “for making it possible for the pilgrims to fly from the state airport for the first time to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage” – in 2014, 567 of the Nigerian pilgrims who visited Israel were from Kaduna, the site of brutal and frequent attacks on Christians by the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist organization.