Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

08/08/2023 Washington (International Christian Concern) — The attention of the world has shifted to Nigeria as officials urge the Biden administration to redesignate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act. This designation is awarded on an annual basis and is given to countries that are found to have committed egregious acts of violence that curtail religious liberties.

Nigeria has been repeatedly designated and un-designated as a CPC with international arguments as to the actual cause of the conflict. The United States, alongside many other countries, describe the religious persecution as a “herder-farmer” conflict with contributing factors such as climate change and resource scarcity. There is a clear pattern, however, between the Islamic extremists and the affected Christian communities.

One of the groups that conducts a large portion of the violence in the country is the Fulani militants. These militants are often portrayed as one side of the “herder-farmer” conflict, but they are recorded as attacking Christian communities through the burning of churches, summarily killing schoolchildren, kidnaping priests for ransom, and often executing them. Additionally, twelve Nigerian state governments officially adhere to Sharia law which contributes to discrimination and violence against Christians.

Despite this clear documentation of violence against Christians, the U.S. Department of State effectively denies the religious aspect of this conflict. In its Report on International Religious Freedom for 2022, the State Department stated, “While much of the violence involved predominantly Muslim herders and, depending on location, either predominantly Christian or Muslim farmers …  banditry and other criminality, not animosity between particular religious groups or on the basis of religion, were the primary drivers of intercommunal violence.”

Many disagree with this sentiment based on the evidence. When asked about his thoughts on the issue in Nigeria, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rashad Hussain, said, “I share your concerns. I don’t think we have much disagreement in terms of the substance of what is happening on the ground.”

Additionally, “the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom explicitly recommended the U.S. government ‘[r]edesignate Nigeria as a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)’ in its 2021 annual report, as it has every year since 2009” according to the Daily Signal.

In a statement regarding the recent push for the State Department to designate Nigeria as a CPC, Representative French Hill, R-Ark, a co-sponsor of House Resolution 82 which urges the president to make such this designation said,  “It is imperative that the State Department take action by adding Nigeria as a [country of particular concern] and make clear that the U.S. government condemns the continued egregious actions in Nigeria.”

Eric Patterson, president of Religious Freedom Institute, shared this sentiment in his testimony saying, “Nigeria is the regional anchor of West Africa … and when Nigeria is unstable, the entire region is unstable. We also do not want to see falling dominos of failing states, millions of destitute refugees, and a global petroleum shock. Nigeria’s friends care about Nigeria, both because it will affect the United States sooner or later, and because the citizens of Nigeria deserve justice and peace.”

ICC eagerly anticipates the decision made by President Biden alongside the U.S. Department of State regarding the designation on Nigeria toward the end of the year.