Religious freedom: Nigeria drops from violators’ list


Nigeria has been dropped from the list of countries that engage in severe violations of religious freedom.

The Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, made this known in a statement on “Religious Freedom Designations” via the US Department of State website on Wednesday, November 17, 2021.

According to him, “Each year the Secretary of State has the responsibility to identify governments and non-state actors, who, because of their religious freedom violations, merit designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.

Nigeria was not included in the 2021 list; I am designating Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.” 

I am also placing Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.” 

It would be recalled that in 2020, Nigeria was listed among countries that encouraged violence of religious freedom.

In a report released last year by the State Department, the US Former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, frowned at the mass detention of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a Shiite Muslim group that was banned on terrorism allegations.

The State Department report of last year also highlighted The arrests of Muslims for eating in public in Kano state during Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to fast during daylight hours, and new regulations on preaching in Kaduna state”.

The Secretary of State explained that it would not waiver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country.

 ” In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs. This Administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right”.

According to Blinken, the US would continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses.

 “The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe”.

Adding that, the challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched.

They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention. 

The Secretary of State is currently in Kenya.


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