WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of State has designated Nigeria a “country of particular concern” only once in 14 years, though the African nation leads the world in the number of Christians killed or kidnapped for their faith.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended to the State Department for 14 consecutive years that Nigeria be considered a CPC, noted human rights group International Christian Concern, quoting USCIRF. Nations listed among the “countries of particular concern” are those that “engage in or tolerate systemic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
The U.S. included Nigeria on the CPC in 2020 but removed it in 2021.
Improvement in religious freedom is a requirement for removal from the CPC — improvement that has not happened in Nigeria, ICC stated.
Nigeria is No. 7 on the 2022 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian, a list compiled each year by Open Doors, a ministry supporting the global persecuted church.
Open Doors ranks Nigeria’s persecution level as “extreme.”
Quoting figures from Open Doors, a January 2022 article from Morning Star News reported 4,650 Christians were killed and 2,500 were kidnapped in Nigeria between November 2020 and October 2021. The year prior 3,530 Christians were slain and 990 were abducted.
USCIRF’s 2022 annual report, released in April, recommends that the State Department not only place Nigeria back on the CPC list, but also add the following countries: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, India, Syria and Vietnam.
The report further recommends including the following on the “special watchlist” for “perpetration or toleration of severe violations”: Algeria, Cuba, Nicaragua, Azerbaijan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
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