Rights groups outraged as Blinken removes Nigeria from US list of countries tolerating or promoting religious violence

Friday, November 26, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Christian and government organizations have expressed fury at last week’s decision by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to remove Nigeria from a US list of countries identified as allowing or engaging in violent persecution of minority faith groups, Politico reports. Outrage at Blinken’s decision follows the bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2021 report in which Nigeria is described as a “killing field for Christians.”

The State Department officials did not give any reason for removing Nigeria from its list of countries of “particular concern,” saying only that the country does not meet the legal threshold to justify its presence there, Politico reported. However, critics note the decision was made just prior to Blinken’s trip to Nigeria last week: some believe the decision was motivated by a desire to appease Nigeria as an important economic and political influence in Africa.

That Blinken would assert Nigeria does not qualify for placement as a country of particular concern is galling to rights advocates who noted that the nation ranks number one in the world for Christians who are murdered by Islamic radicals. Over 11,500 Christians have been slaughtered in Nigeria since 2015, with nearly 4,000 being killed in the first half of 2021 alone. Moreover, moderate Muslims are also under egregious attack by Islamic radicals in the country.

In a press release last week, the USCIRF said it was “appalled” and “especially displeased” at Blinken’s position on Nigeria. “We urge the State Department to reconsider its designations based on facts presented in its own reporting,” USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza said in a statement.

Meanwhile, President of Christian advocacy group Open Doors USA David Curry, pointed out in a statement that “Boko Haram [Islamic terrorists in Nigeria] have targeted both moderate Muslims and Christians,” Politico reports. Curry added that Open Doors is working to change Blinken’s mind about Nigeria.