The Biden admin. has left Nigeria off of a religious liberty watchlist for two straight years, despite reports of thousands of Christians being massacred in the African country.
On Friday, religious liberty campaigners slammed the State Dept. for keeping Nigeria off its list of “Countries of Particular Concern,” a federal monitoring list for countries that support or condone religious violence.
According to the Washington Times, “Secretary Blinken’s ongoing failure to put Nigeria on the list of the countries of Particular Concern (CPC) when the Biden government should be addressing President Buhari is disgraceful.”
Smith, the top member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Africa subcommittee, noted that the decision would be reviewed by the next Congress in January.
“The degradation of human rights in Nigeria — the subject of congressional hearings I’ve led — and the Biden govt’s absolutely unjustified withdrawal from the struggle to safeguard religious persecution victims means there will be an inquiry item in the new Congress,” he said.
According to a State Department official, Secretary of State Antony Blinken “decided that Nigeria’s condition of religious freedom did not satisfy the legal criteria to be put on the list.” The State Department would “push” Nigeria’s administration to resolve religious liberty concerns, according to the official.
Nury Turkel, Chair of the United States Commissioner on International Religious Freedom, disagreed with Blinken’s judgment, arguing that Nigeria’s conditions “certainly” deserved inclusion on the list.
Amid claims that thousands of Christians have been slain or abducted in Nigeria this year, the decision to keep the country off the list was made. According to a report released last month by the World Association for Civil Liberty and the Rule of Law, Islamic extremist groups have killed over 4,000 Christians and kidnapped 2,000 others.
The group accused Nigeria’s govt. of being “friendly” to some terrorist groups, while others urged that the government do more to combat Christian persecution.
Prior to the State Dept.’s decision, the Alliance Protecting Freedom and Founded By Revelation Media circulated a petition asking the Biden admin. to reinstate Nigeria on the CPC list.
“We cannot keep silent when our sisters and brothers are persecuted and martyred because of their beliefs. The murders must cease. Torture must cease. The least we should do as Americans is acknowledge the very real evil that is occurring in Nigeria at this moment,” the petition stated.
According to Open Doors, a Christian persecution monitoring organization, Nigeria is the seventh most difficult nation in the world to live as a Christian.