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Christopher Smith, a member of the US House of Representatives, has requested that Nigeria be added to the list of nations of “Particular Concern” due to the country’s growing number of instances of religious prosecution, including blasphemy-related executions.

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In a letter read aloud on the parliament floor on December 12, Smith stated that Nigeria has the greatest percentage of cases of religious persecution worldwide—90% of cases are registered there.

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He emphasized that several people have been slain, kidnapped, and imprisoned as a result of religious persecution, which is primarily carried out by militants within the Fulani Muslim herder and supported by legislation from some state governments.

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“As advocates and proponents of religious freedom, as well as leaders of grassroots organizations with millions of American members, we humbly request that you take immediate action in response to the Department of State’s failure to appropriately address the egregious, systematic, and ongoing religious persecution in Nigeria, as required by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. “We particularly demand that Nigeria be designated as a Country of Particular Concern under the IRFA and that a special envoy be appointed for both Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region. Furthermore, we urge you to endorse and cosponsor the bipartisan legislation, House Resolution 82, written by Representatives Chris Smith and Henry Cuellar, which urges the State Department to take these two actions.

According to Open Doors, Nigeria accounted for a startling 90% of all Christians killed globally last year due to their faith—a rise from the 80% it documented in 2021. It is estimated that in 2022, over 5,000 Nigerian Christians lost their lives as a result of their beliefs.

Today, terrorists among the Fulani Muslim herder population are mostly responsible for this massacre because they are free to act as they like. The Observatory for Religious Freedom in Africa discovered that, from October 2019 to September 2022, Christians in Nigeria were 7.6 times more likely to be killed and six times more likely to be abducted than Muslims by terrorist and militia groups, even though some Muslims have also been killed by the same forces. This statistic takes into account the proportion of Christians in each of Nigeria’s states.

Catholic priests, Methodist bishops, and evangelical pastors have been specifically targeted for kidnapping by Fulani and unknown gunmen, who usually yell “Allahu Akbar.”

Smith expressed concern that if religious persecution persists in Nigeria, it might spread to other African nations given that Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country. Authorities also directly target religious groups by enforcing Islamic blasphemy laws, which have recently resulted in the death sentences for Sufi musician Yahaya Sharif-Aminu and two Muslim clerics, as well as “religious insult” laws, which led to a 24-year sentence for Nigeria’s Humanist Association head, Mubarak Bala.

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa with the greatest economy, is a powerful force in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria is adding to the already high level of regional insecurity by permitting religious persecution to spread within its borders. He said, “We need to respond to the International Religious Freedom Act as well as American interests.

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