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U.S Says Nigeria, World Worst Violators of Religious Freedom

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is

recommending that the U.S State Department include Nigeria and six other

countries to its list of 10 nations that engage in the worst violations of

religious rights.
USCIRF wants Nigeria, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan,

Syria, and Vietnam be designated as CPCs [Countries of Particular

However, “non-state actors such as Da'esh [also known as ISIS or the

Islamic State] and Boko Haram continued to rank amongst the most egregious

abusers of religious freedom in the world,” according to the International

Religious Freedom Report for 2015 released by the State Department.

“Da'esh continued to pursue a brutal strategy of what Secretary [John]

Kerry judged to constitute genocide against Yezidis, Christians, Shia, and

other vulnerable groups in the territory it controlled, and was

responsible for barbarous acts, including killings, torture, enslavement

and trafficking, rape and other sexual abuse against religious and ethnic

minorities and Sunnis in areas under its control,” according to the

“In areas not under Da'esh control, the group continued suicide bombings

and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks against Shia

Muslims,” it added.
Under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), the

department issues a yearly report describing the state of religious

freedom in each foreign country, and designating countries with egregious

religious freedom violations as CPCs.
“Earlier this year, the Department designated 10 nations as CPCs under

IRFA: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan,

Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan,” USCIRF noted in an August 12

“USCIRF agrees with these designations,” and recommends that the State

Department take further action designating the seven additional countries

as CPCs as well.
“Pakistan's government, for example, clearly meets IRFA's CPC standard,

but has never been so designated,” USCIRF pointed out.

The State Dept. report details a number of religious freedom violations in

Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia, including the

brutal torture and murder of a woman in Kabul, Afghanistan who was falsely

accused of burning the Koran and other mob killings for supposed apostasy

from Islam.
Non-violent methods of religious discrimination were prevalent as well,

according to the report.
“Around the world, governments continued to tighten their regulatory grip

on religious groups, and particularly on minority religious groups and

religions which are viewed as not traditional to that specific country,”

according to the State Department.
“Researchers Roger Finke and Dane Mataic of Penn State University found

that the number of countries that require some sort of registration has

increased significantly over the last two decades, to nearly 90 percent of

all countries.
“Finke and Mataic assess that, while some of these countries regulate

religion in what appears to be a non-discriminatory way, many of the

measures used to regulate religion, or to decide what is a valid and

recognized religion and what is not, are clearly discriminatory,” said the

Angola, Azerbaijan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Eritrea,

Brunei, Burma, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Hungary, Bahrain,

Ukraine, and Russia were found to have continued or increased religious

Some of these countries—such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and

Brunei—have regulations that favor either Sunni or Shi'a Islam and often

violently punish those with other beliefs, the report stated.

Steps toward peace between Islam and other religions were made in several

countries, it added.
In Kenya, a group of Muslims reportedly shielded Christians who were being

attacked on a bus; in the Central African Republic, Christians and Muslims

peacefully marched together during Pope Francis' visit to the country,

leading to the demolition of barriers between Christian and Muslim

neighborhoods; and the United Arab Emirates reportedly allowed a second

Catholic church and the first Hindu temple to be built in the country.

The report also highlighted a Canadian court that ruled that the federal

government could not require persons to remove “religiously based

clothing” from their faces to take the citizenship oath.

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