Nigeria is on the U.S. State Department’s Countries of Particular Concern list for the first time. The West African nation joins nine other countries accused of “engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement issued Monday.
Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton says it could lead to sanctions. “That wasn’t announced as a part of the designation, so we don’t know what actions the State Department and the U.S. government will take going forward,” he clarifies.
“But some of those things, like sanctions, weren’t in play before this designation was made.”
On Tuesday, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback answered questions about the 2020 designations in a special briefing. Regarding Nigeria, Brownback said:
The Secretary has great concern about what’s taking place in Nigeria at this time. A number of terrorist groups are organizing and pushing into the country. We’re seeing a lot of religious-tinged violence taking place in that country and indeed in West Africa. It’s an area of growing concern about what’s happening, in particular the tension between religious groups… religious affiliation is [often] used to try to recruit and inspire violent acts.
Pray for Nigeria
“It is something that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended every year since 2009 so I don’t necessarily think it comes as a surprise, but it’s interesting in several respects,” Nettleton notes.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth
CALL TO ACTION
- Nearly all Christians in northeastern Nigeria have lost family members in attacks by Boko Haram or Islamic Fulani militants. Pray for healing and comfort.
- While Bibles are plentiful in the south, there is a great need for them in the north. Pray for the many believers in northeastern Nigeria who do not own a Bible.