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RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION: Nigeria, China, 11 others on US special watch list

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The United States government has included Nigeria in a list of countries that tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced Nigeria’s inclusion in the “Special Watch List” of nations that engaged in, or tolerated religion violations in their territory.

Other countries listed in the SWL are Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Washington also designated al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQIP), Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, Islamic State in Iran and Syria (ISIS), ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.

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Many Nigerians and the international community had criticised the Nigerian government’s increasing disobedience of court orders and move to stop the citizens from freely expressing their opinion on issues of public interest.

Pompeo said: “On December 18, 2019, the Department of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.”

“The Department renewed the placement of Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom,” and added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan to this list.”

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