CV NEWS FEED // This week the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) calling on the Biden administration to place Nigeria on its international religious persecution watchlist once more.
The legislation (HRes 82) appeals the Biden administration’s recent decision to leave Nigeria off its yearly international religious persecution watchlist for the past three years.
As CatholicVote previously reported, the State Department announced in early January it would not designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for religious persecution, despite sustained violence against Christians in the region.
Backlash ensued from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and dozens of human rights organizations, including International Christian Concern (ICC), following the CPC list’s release.
“The Nigerian government has enabled widespread murder and violence through indifference and a gross failure to protect victims and prosecute Islamist terrorists,” said Smith.
Jihadist terror attacks which took place over Christmas week in Nigeria’s Plateau State left over 200 Christians dead. Local reports tied the attacks to the northern Fulani tribe, a predominantly Muslim nomadic group that wields significant political power in the region.
The same tribe has been carrying out violent attacks against Christians throughout Nigeria, traveling as far south as the Benue State, located in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
Although many mainstream media outlets have chalked up “conflicts” between the Fulani herdsmen and Nigerian Christians as land and resource-related spats exacerbated by “climate change,” recent reports have shown the Fulani tribe is responsible for the deaths of over 400 Christians.
An additional 100 have been reported wounded, raped, or kidnapped.
“The US State Department is not using all the tools provided to hold guilty parties accountable,” Smith continued. “We must combat these atrocities and stand united for religious freedom and against the persecution of innocent people everywhere.”