Nigeria: U.S. Unhappy Over Jailing of Nigerians for Blasphemy

The United States government has criticised how Nigerian courts have continued to sentence citizens to long jail terms for blasphemy and death.

The US position was disclosed by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during the release of the 2020 International Religious Freedom Report this week.

He wondered why the Nigerian government has not brought anyone to justice for the “massacre” of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria also known as Shiites.

Quoting the report, the Blinken said, “In Nigeria, courts continue to convict people of blasphemy, sentencing them to long-term imprisonment or even death. Yet the government has still not brought anyone to justice for the military’s massacre of hundreds of Shia Muslims in 2015.”

He further stressed that religious freedom is a human right and the freedom enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adding that America would continue to defend freedom of faith globally.

“Religious freedom, like every human right, is universal. All people, everywhere, are entitled to it no matter where they live, what they believe, or what they don’t believe.

“Religious freedom can’t be fully realised unless other human rights are respected, and when governments violate their people’s right to believe and worship freely, it jeopardises all the others,” the US State Secretary noted.

The Shiites have for over five years been regularly taking to the streets particularly in Abuja to demand the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat.