The United States has given its reasons for blacklisting Nigeria over alleged violations of religious freedom, saying this is as a result of widening terrorism with little or no government response.
Samuel Brownback, US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said Nigeria has been “tolerating egregious acts taking place in that nation”.
The US designated Nigeria as a ‘country of particular concern’ after years of placing Nigeria under a watchlist for allegedly enabling violations of religious rights.
This came after the US initially expressed concerns over the high rate of religious intolerance in various parts of Nigeria following acts often perpetrated by state actors.
The Nigerian government, however, rejected the tag, arguing that it “protects religious freedom jealously”.
But speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Brownback said the US is seeing “a lot of religious-tinged violence taking place”.
“The secretary and really the world has great concern about what’s taking place in Nigeria at this time, and a number of terrorist groups are organizing and pushing into the country,” he said during the briefing on Thursday.
“We’re seeing a lot of religious-tinged violence taking place in that country and indeed in West Africa. It’s an area of growing concern about what’s happening, in particular the tension that’s taking place there between religious groups. And it’s often the religious affiliation is used to try to recruit and inspire violent acts.”
The ambassador added that a major concern for the US regarding Nigeria is “the lack of adequate government response in Nigeria”.
“You’ve got expanded terrorist activities, you’ve got a lot of it associated around religious affiliations, and the government’s response has been minimal to not happening at all,” he said.
“A number of cases – there have not been criminal cases brought forward by the government. The terrorism continues to happen and grow, in some places unabated.”
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