U.S. Rep. Chris Smith recently criticized the U.S. State Department for removing Nigeria from its list of Countries of Particular concern. The move was called a retreat from noble battles for religious persecution victims. Smith noted that Genocide Watch had called Nigeria a country of killing Christians and Open Doors had placed Nigeria at the ninth spot on its list of most serious violators of religious liberty. However, Nigeria is home to more Christians being killed for their faith than any other country.
According to reports, thousands of Christians were kidnapped and murdered in Nigeria within the first four months of this year. This was a sign of a dangerous increase in violence against the Christian population. Intersociety reported Islamic jihadists had killed 1,470 Christians and abducted more than 2,200 others within the first four months in 2021.
The 1,470 Christian death in 2019 was more than the number of Christians who had died.
Smith stated, despite militants systematically attacking and murdering Christian farmers in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, the State Department has stopped identifying Nigeria on its Special Watch List. Smith rejected the State Department’s decision and joined the nonpartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCCIRF) to protest it.
The USCIRF strongly condemned President Biden’s decision not to reverse. It also said that it was unexplainable that the U.S. Department of State considered it a country with no serious violations of religious freedom.
Open Doors USA CEO David Curry said that the State Department’s decision to remove Nigeria from the CPC List was a confusing mistake and a violation of the International Religious Freedom Act.