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The United States government has removed Nigeria from the list of countries blacklisted for “engaging in violation of religious freedom”.

In 2011 when President Olusegun Obasanjo was in power, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said Nigeria should be designated a “country of particular concern” — a designation for countries “guilty” of particularly severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998.

In 2013, USCIRF reinstated its the recommendation that Nigeria be labelled “a country of particular concern”, saying President Goodluck Jonathan failed to hold accountable perpetrators of religiously-related violence.

The United States will not waver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country.  In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” the statement reads.

“This Administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right.

“Each year the Secretary of State has the responsibility to identify governments and non-state actors, who, because of their religious freedom violations, merit designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.Advertisement

“I am designating Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

“I am also placing Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”


“Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.

“The challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention.”

The Cable

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