At last week’s International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Dr. Joel Veldkamp, International Communications Officer for Christian Solidarity International (CSI), presented first-hand evidence of anti-Christian sectarian violence in Nigeria after a recent fact-finding visit to the area. Fiona Bruce, the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy for Religious Freedom and Belief, expressed frustration with the U.S. Government’s policy regarding Nigeria. Bruce co-authored an influential report by British parliamentarians entitled “Unfolding Genocide?” which documents a pattern of violent attacks against Christian communities by Fulani Muslim militias in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.
Last November, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed Nigeria from the State Department’s list of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) regarding “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” This concession to the Nigerian authorities came on the eve of Blinken’s visit to Abuja, in which he strove to shore up Washington’s preeminent position there in the face of challenges from China, Russia and Boko Haram and related anti-western terrorist groups. Despite fierce condemnation from human rights defenders in Nigeria and abroad, Nigeria has not been restored to the CPC list.
On June 22, CSI’s International President Dr. John Eibner urged the UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to propose a resolution calling on Secretary Blinken to reinstate Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” regarding religious persecution. A week later, five US Senators – Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Mike Braun, James Inhofe and Tom Cotton – urged the U.S. Secretary of State to do likewise.