The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has warned of a “Christian genocide” if the government of Nigeria cannot protect Christians from Islamic terrorism.
The 2021 USCIRF annual report has again listed Nigeria as a country of particular concern (CPC), a designation for “governments that engage in or tolerate particularly severe religious freedom violations.”
USCIRF also listed Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province – both active in persecuting Nigeria’s Christians – as entities of particular concern (EPCs).
The report accuses the Nigerian government of a “problematic level of apathy” for its failure to properly investigate and prosecute Islamist violence against Christians, adding, “More Christians have been killed for their faith in Nigeria in the last year than in the entire Middle East.”
“Nigeria is quickly becoming a ‘killing field’ for that nation’s Christians,” said committee member Gary L. Bauer. “Nigeria’s government seems unable or unwilling to stop the growing carnage.
“In large [swaths] of the country, Christian parents fear for their children every day when they go to school. Those children are targeted by savage Islamists who kidnap and force them to renounce Christ or face death. Every time a Nigerian Christian family worships at a church, they are painfully aware it may be the last thing they do on this earth.
“Radical Islamists are committing violence inspired by what they believe is a religious imperative to ‘cleanse’ Nigeria of its Christians. They must be stopped.”
For Christians living in the North and Middle Belt of Nigeria, persecution is rife and relentless. Since 2015 extremist violence has killed at least 8,400 Christians. Thousands of people have been maimed, kidnapped or had their homes and livelihoods destroyed, and more than 2 million have been displaced.