Christian groups and religious liberty watchdogs are criticizing the U.S. State Department’s decision to exclude Nigeria from a list of countries which engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom.
The most recent Countries of Particular Concern designations were issued Nov. 15 and include: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Countries listed on the Special Watch List are: Algeria, Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Thousands of Christians killed
Nigeria was left off the 2021 lists, despite being designated a country of particular concern in 2020 and a special watch list country in 2019.
“Removing this largely symbolic sign of concern is a brazen denial of reality,” said John Eibner, president of Christian Solidarity International.
Persecution watchdog groups say thousands of Christians have been killed in Nigeria in the past few years. According to the rights group Intersociety Rule of Law, 1,470 Christians were murdered and over 2,200 were abducted by jihadists in the first four months of 2021.
In recent weeks, Fulani herdsmen killed 10 Christians, including three children, in an attack in Plateau state Nov. 26, according to Morning Star News. An attack in the same area a week earlier left at least 690 people displaced from the predominantly Christian area in Miango District, the report said.