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Non secular freedom advocates ask Biden to place Nigeria again on watchlist for anti-Christian violence

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FIRST ON FOX: A broad array of non secular freedom advocates has banded collectively in asking President Biden to place Nigeria again on the State Division’s checklist of nations of specific concern (CPC) on spiritual freedom, citing the continued violence, killing and displacement of Christians by the hands of Boko Haram, Fulani militants and different largely Muslim aggressors. 

Final month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken removed Nigeria from the checklist.

A coalition of 12 organizations and 30 advocates, together with Christians who confronted persecution within the Muslim world, like Andrew Brunson (a former prisoner in Turkey), Mariam Ibraheem (who was sentenced to demise for “apostasy” in Sudan) and Pleasure Bishara (a survivor of the Boko Haram kidnappings), praised former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s determination to position Nigeria on the CPC checklist in December 2020 and urged Biden to return to that designation.

“The continuing violence, killing, and displacement towards Christians and others have solely elevated,” the advocates, organized by the Household Analysis Council (FRC), wrote in a letter supplied to Fox Information. “In actual fact, throughout 2021, massacres occur nearly nightly, whereas by day, younger boys are killed within the fields. Pregnant ladies are brutally dismembered, their infants mutilated earlier than their eyes. And now, an entire church congregation has been kidnapped and held captive.”

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“In current months, gangs of Fulani militants, Boko Haram terrorist, and different armed radicals have develop into much more brazen, torching whole villages and farms, ambushing, and killing harmless individuals in gory, unspeakable methods,” the letter notes. “Sadly, the victims are sometimes focused due to their spiritual id.” It notes that “blasphemy legal guidelines enforced by state-sanctioned Shari’a courts” and that accusations of “blasphemy for insulting the Prophet Muhammad might be met with a demise sentence.”

A church that residents say was burned by Boko Haram militants in Damasak, Nigeria, March 24, 2015. (REUTERS/Joe Penney) 

The letter cites a Catholic Information Company report from July, noting that an estimated 3,462 Christians had been killed in Nigeria within the first 200 days of 2021, which equates to 17 Christians murdered every single day in Africa’s most populous nation.

“For years, the Nigerian authorities has carried out just about nothing to cease this violence,” the letter provides. The advocates argue that Nigeria ought to solely get faraway from the CPC checklist after having “demonstrated substantial progress” on spiritual freedom, however since that has not occurred, Nigeria’s elimination from the checklist “sends the flawed message to governments all over the world who interact in or tolerate egregious violations of non secular freedom.”


Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who obtained arrested in Turkey in October 2016 on trumped-up espionage costs however launched in October 2018, advised Fox Information the Biden administration “appears to not take the difficulty of non secular persecution significantly.”

“In 2018, whereas I used to be imprisoned in Turkey, my daughter spoke on the State Division’s Ministerial to Advance Non secular Freedom, advocating on my behalf,” Brunson, now serving as FRC’s particular adviser for spiritual freedom, stated in a press release to Fox Information. “The following 12 months, because of the concerted advocacy and motion taken by the U.S. authorities, I used to be capable of converse on the 2019 Ministerial as a free man. In 2021, the State Division cancelled the Ministerial to Advance Non secular Freedom fairly than construct on the momentum.”

Former President Trump prays between Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Pastor Andrew Brunson at the Family Research Council's annual gala in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Former President Trump prays between Tony Perkins, president of the Household Analysis Council, and Pastor Andrew Brunson on the Household Analysis Council’s annual gala in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

“That is an instance of how the Biden administration appears to not take the difficulty of non secular persecution significantly,” Brunson stated. “That the State Division would take away Nigeria’s designation as a Nation of Specific Concern—though Christians are being killed in Nigeria practically each week—could be very discouraging.

“I do know first-hand the distinction that the US’ spiritual freedom advocacy could make,” he added. “We will make a distinction in Nigeria too, if our leaders select to carry the road.”

Sam Brownback, former governor of Kansas and ambassador-at-large for worldwide spiritual freedom below former President Trump, advised Fox Information the “forms” pushed Biden to take away Nigeria from the CPC checklist.

Samuel Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom under former President Trump, speaks in Turkey.

Samuel Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for worldwide spiritual freedom below former President Trump, speaks in Turkey.
(AP, File)


“The forms received,” Brownback stated in a press release. “They don’t wish to acknowledge any spiritual variations in Nigeria. They consider there isn’t any spiritual part to the battle and that in the event that they acknowledge faith is part of the battle, it should make the scenario worse.”

He steered that the Biden administration believes that “in the event that they ignore spiritual variations, the issue will go away.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Worldwide, Worldwide Christian Concern, ChinaAid, The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee and the Church of Scientology Nationwide Affairs Group joined FRC on the letter, amongst different organizations. Notable particular person signers embody FRC President Tony Perkins, former Congressman Frank Wolf, Anglican Church of Nigeria Director of Communications Hassan John, Evangelical Church Profitable All President Rev. Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, Anglican Bishop of Jos Rev. Dr. Benjamin Kwashi and Christian Freedom Worldwide President and CEO Wendy Wright.

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