The Government of the United States has removed Nigeria’s name from the list of countries “engaging in Violation of religious freedom”. The United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, disclosed this yesterday ahead of his slated visit to Nigeria. As Nigeria has been vindicated, Blinken added that countries like Russia, China, and eight others have been added to the list of a “Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated’ systematic ongoing and egregious violation of religious freedom”.
He asserted that the United States government will not relent on its advocacy for freedom of religious practice around the globe. He said too many countries around the world have continued to gag, arrest, harass and jail or kill individuals or groups because of their religious beliefs.
Blinken revealed that each year his office has a responsibility of identifying governments and non-state actors who because of their religious freedom violation, merit designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.
In his statement, “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.
He added, “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,”
In December 2020, the US Government listed Nigeria as one of the countries engaged in violating religious freedom.