Washington D.C. — According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom 2021 Report released last April 2021, Eritrea and Nigeria are the two African countries of the ten recommended for designation as “Countries of Particular Concern” while Algeria and Egypt had the dubious distinction of landing on the “Special Watch List” and non-state actors Al Shabaab, the terrorist jihadist fundamentalist group based in Somalia and operating in East Africa and Yemen, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara based in Mali and Niger as “entities of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
Against the backdrop of the foregoing and the fact that “Religious freedom touches every culture, nation, religion, and political system” with over 80 percent of the world living in countries “where there are high levels of governmental or societal restrictions on religion, and restrictions have been steadily increasing for several years” that the United States of America convened the first International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington D.C. from Wednesday July 13th through Thursday July 15th 2021.
During this summit that brings together a coalition and seeks to expand it to advance the respect for the right to religious freedom, Africa will feature on the agenda. On its first day, one side event spotlighted Nigeria. Organized by Save the Persecuted Christians, a grassroots organization educating and highlighting the persecution of Christians worldwide, the event sought to highlight the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. The session entitled “Stop the Slavery and Slaughter in Nigeria” addressed the question: Who is funding the violence in Northern Nigeria against Christians. Follow the money to uncover why Nigeria is unraveling, unceasing religious based attacks fueled the enslavement of Nigerian women and girls.
Dr Gloria Puldu, President of the Leah Sharibu Foundation named after Leah Sharibu one of the girls abducted by Boko Haram still being held in captivity because of her faith epitomizes the faith of girls and women in Northern Nigeria, Stephen Enada of the International Committee on Nigeria (ICON) and Alheri Bawa Magaji, Resilient Aid and Dialogue Initiative were among panelists detailing the horror stories of religious persecution of Christians by Muslims and fulanis in Northern Nigeria.
The Family Research Council, the conversative Washington-based thinktank shall host a breakout session on Wednesday July 14th, 2021, at 1;45pm on the theme: “Africa’s Violent Christian Persecution: A Danger to the World” which will examine the causes of the escalating dangers on the continent, featuring eyewitness accounts from survivors and expert analysis of how the international community should respond.
Wednesday’s sponsored Dinner by ADF International will highlight the grave challenges facing Nigeria regarding the protection of religious freedom and the necessity of a sustained and well supported international effort to turn the tide against the violence and discrimination ravaging the country. USCIRF’s designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern is a recognition of the dire situation facing religious minorities in Northern Nigeria and the Middle Belt. Rev Johnnie Moore, Author of the book, “The Next Jihad: Stop the Christian Genocide in Africa,” Bishop Dr Sunday N Onuoha, of the Nigerian Methodist Church and founder of Vision of Africa, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the diocese of Sokoto in Northern Nigeria and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council are the witnesses whose voices shall bellow on the issue.
On Thursday, Joy Bishara, a Nigerian Survivor Chibok Girl shall share her testimony during the Morning Plenary Session on IRF in Economy, National Security and Accountability while Nigerian Prelate Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah shall speak on the panel discussing The Rising Tide of Religious Nationalism”