A coalition of 33 organizations and 35 individuals are asking the U.S. State Department to redesignate Nigeria as a “country of particular concern.”
According to The Christian Post, the group sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, asking him to identify the country as one that has “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” The letter also asks that the U.S. appoint a special envoy to “investigate the situation and make recommendations in consultation with local representatives.”
“The CPC designation and Special Envoy are vital to recognizing the gravity of the religious freedom violations occurring in the country and the government’s unwillingness to control the problems, as well as its contributions to the problems,” the letter states.
Human rights activists have long said Nigeria’s Christian farming communities in the Middle Belt are often attacked by Muslim ethnic herders.
Christians also face persecution and discrimination from Boko Haram and the Islamic State. In northern Nigeria, millions have reportedly had to flee their homes because of the ongoing threats of violence.
In late 2021, the State Department pulled Nigeria from its annual list of countries of “particular concern.” Previously, it had been added in 2020.
ADF International, a division of the religious liberty advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom, spearheaded the effort. Other organizations that supported the letter include the Family Research Council, International Christian Concern, the American Humanist Association, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Hudson Institute, the Anglican Persecuted Church Network, In Defense of Christians, the Religious Freedom Institute and Jubilee Campaign USA.
Others who signed the letter included former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who spearheaded the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 that created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.