U.S. Senators Ask State Department to Address Christian Persecution in Nigeria

U.S. Senators Ask State Department to Address Christian Persecution in Nigeria

03/07/2024 United States (International Christian Concern) – Three U.S. Senators have sent a letter to the U.S. Dept. of State expressing concerns about the agency’s recent exclusion of Nigeria from its Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list. U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to “not stand idly by while Nigerian Christians continue to be murdered for their faith.” 

Under the International Religious Freedom Act, Nigeria meets the statutory definition of “engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom” to be designated as a CPC. Nigeria must be designated as such.

The Senators wrote, “The horrific slaughter of Nigerian Christians around Christmas Day should have spurred you to action, but you have again failed to meet the moment. We remain very concerned about the deteriorating state of religious freedom in Nigeria and your Department’s continued failure to appropriately respond using the tools at your disposal.

Nigeria continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians. Since the Biden Administration de-listed Nigeria as a CPC in 2021, religious freedom protections have eroded under the Nigerian government. Yet the State Department again refused to re-designate Nigeria as a CPC last month—contrary to the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and numerous religious freedom and human rights organizations.”

 In Nigeria, extremist violence persecutes the Christian community daily. The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, a Nigeria-based research group, estimates that more than 50,000 Christians have been killed since 2009. The same report also estimates that about 18,000 churches and 2,500 Christian schools have been attacked. In addition, 12 of Nigeria’s northern states maintain the death penalty as a punishment for blasphemy, and the forced marriage and conversion of women and girls are pervasive.

We are grateful to these Senators for raising the issue of Christian persecution in Nigeria,” said McKenna Wendt, International Christian Concern (ICC) Advocacy Manager. “The religious freedom community remains outraged and disappointed by the State Department’s exclusion of Nigeria from its CPC list. How many more Christians must be killed before the United States will do something about it? We hope that the letter does not fall on deaf ears and that the U.S. will remain a global leader in the advancement of religious freedom.”

In January, ICC sent a letter to Congress, calling for a congressional hearing into the State Department’s failure to designate Nigeria as a CPC. The letter, signed by 40+ international religious freedom experts, called for the Secretary of State to explain his rationale before Congress.

 

Source: https://www.persecution.org/2024/03/07/u-s-senators-ask-state-department-to-address-christian-persecution-in-nigeria/

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