Nigeria: For Second Year, U.S. Adds Nigeria to List of Countries Tolerating Religious Persecution


“Today the U.S. designates Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of concern…”

For the second time in a row, the United States has designated Nigeria amongst Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) guilty of “egregious violations of religious freedom.”

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the country was added to the CPC after an indictment by the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in 2019.

“Religious freedom conditions in Nigeria trended negatively in 2018. The Nigerian government at the national and state levels continued to tolerate violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, and suppressed the freedom to manifest religion or belief,” the 2018 report from the commission, released in 2019, read.

The report added that “religious sectarian violence increased during the year, with Muslims and Christians attacked based on their religious and ethnic identity.”

Another case cited was the violation of rights of Shi’a members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), whose leader Sheikh Ibrahim El Zaky Zaky is still in detention despite a court ordering his release.

As a result of the commission’s report, the U. S government re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 while Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan were added to this list,”

The country also designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the U.S. Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, on Monday, Nigeria has been re-designated as CPC for the second time.

“Religious freedom is an unalienable right, and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish. Today, the United States – a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution, as the recent Commission on Unalienable Rights report noted – once again took action to defend those who simply want to exercise this essential freedom.”

“The United States is designating Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, as amended, for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom,” the statement read.