The State Department has revised its Countries of Particular Concern on religious freedom.
Only one country was added this year to the US government’s official list of the world’s worst persecutors of religion: Nigeria.
The West African nation – Africa’s most populous and divided roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims – has been plagued for years by rising sectarian tensions and the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, which most recently was blamed for a massacre of scores of farmers in Borno State.
Nigeria joins Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan on the US Department of State’s Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list, which names and shames governments which have “engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.’” Those nine nations were also on the 2018 and 2019 CPC lists.
“Today, the United States, a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution … once again took action to defend those who simply want to exercise this essential freedom,” stated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“… And yet our work is far from complete.”
Last year, Nigeria was added to the State Department’s Special Watch List (SWL), a secondary tier below the CPC list for governments that have “engaged in or tolerated ‘severe violations of religious freedom.’”
The 2020 watch list includes Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Russia, as it did in 2019. Cuba and Nicaragua were added to the list that year, while Russia was added in 2018.
The elevating of Nigeria to the highest level of concern was praised by Nigerian evangelical leaders.
“A lack of religious freedom anywhere in the world …