Two people were arrested at a synagogue in Iriebe Okpulor for “wearing Kippah & Magen”.
At least six Igbo synagogues were razed by soldiers last week in Nigeria’s River State, located in the country’s Biafra region, 9Africa news reported.
The incident took place as soldiers besieged Oyigbo, Etche, Iriebe and Eleme after violence broke out as a result of a youth protest demanding an end to police brutality in the country, 9Africa news reported, citing Igbo Jewish adherents who escaped the attack.
During the siege, at least 50 people were killed and an eyewitness said two people were arrested at a synagogue in Iriebe Okpulor for “wearing Kippah & Magen”.
The Biafra region is mostly populated with the Igbo ethnic group, the majority of which are Christians, according to the Forward. Many Igbo believe that they are descended from a lost tribe of Israel, and include Jewish practices amid those of their own religion. However, some smaller groups identify as Jews themselves.
Campaigning for the secession of the former Easter region of Nigeria is a group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which is led by an exiled activist named Nnamdi Kanu, who identifies as Jewish.
The group has been outlawed.
Kanu called for the release of the two who were arrested, and condemned the attack on the Jewish adherents. He additionally tweeted last Wednesday about the destruction of the synagogues.
He wrote: “Our Synagogue, ‘Beth Knesset Amud ha’Emet’ (Pillar of Truth Synagogue) in #Obigbo has been brought down with bulldozer. The very biggest synagogue in #Biafra. Very sad indeed”-Emeka
The consequences for persecution of Biafran #Jews will be dire & swift Enough said!”
In the eyes of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, the IPOB are terrorists, and last week he called for a crackdown on members of the separatist group, Afirca9 reported.
The Biafra region has a volatile region since Nigeria claimed independence from Britain in the 1960s, the result of which caused the Nigerian Civil War.