USCIRF Report Shines Spotlight on Nigeria’s Blasphemy Laws

Felicia and her husband, Elijah, are missionaries in Northern Nigeria. Christians there experience targeted attacks and daily burdens like being charged triple for basic goods. Pray for this family as they continue to minister under challenging conditions. (Photo, caption courtesy of VOM USA)

new report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom says Nigeria’s blasphemy laws have to go. USCIRF recommendations help guide the U.S. State Department in matters of foreign policy.

“I remember when some of the northern states in Nigeria were putting these Sharia laws in place,” The Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton says.

“The claim at the time was, ‘Well, hey, you don’t need to worry about this because it’s only going to apply to Muslims anyway.’ Now, 12 years down the road, that certainly is not how the laws are being enforced.”

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Nigeria’s constitution protects religious freedom. However, northern states embrace and enforce Islamic codes, including blasphemy laws. In August, the high court in Nigeria’s Kano state ruled that Sharia law does not violate the constitution.

“Can you enforce a blasphemy law and also have religious freedom? It depends on how you define ‘blasphemy’; you can define it very broadly. [For example,] a Muslim who leaves Islam: are they committing blasphemy by saying, ‘Hey, I don’t follow Muhammad any longer. I follow Jesus’?” Nettleton asks.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth


  • Pray Christ-followers in northern Nigeria will have courage and strength.
  • Pray that blasphemy laws will be overturned and religious freedom will flourish.

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