Nigeria among Worst Violators of Freedom; Group Says Violence Strikes Both Muslims, Christians
Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Nigeria has risen to the top tier of the world's worst violators of religious freedom, according to an annual report to be released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The independent bipartisan governmental agency, whose report details abuse in 28 nations, singled out Nigeria for not punishing religiously motivated violence, such as what took place in January when 500 Christians near the city of Jos were hacked to death by Muslims.
Calling Nigeria a tragic case, the USCIRF said its investigators visited Africa's largest country three times over the past year to find out why more than 12,000 Nigerians - Christians and Muslims alike - have died in sectarian violence since 1999.
Not a single criminal, Muslim or Christian, has been convicted and sentenced in Nigeria's 10 years of religious violence, the report says. The Nigerian government and judicial system have so far been unwilling or unable to protect either side.
A spokeswoman for the Nigerian Embassy could not be reached for comment.
Other nations named by the commission - which makes policy recommendations to the State Department, Congress and the president - as among the worst violators are China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, North Korea, Eritrea, Iraq and Uzbekistan.
The following are watch list countries, which have only slightly better records: Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikstan, Turkey and Venezuela.
Saudi Arabia, the report says, continues to circulate educational materials that instill hate and incite violence throughout the world ; the Iranian government denies all rights to its Baha'i minority; the Egyptian government mistreats Baha'is and Coptic Christians; China restricts all manner of religious activities; and North Korea imprisons even the grandchildren of those caught praying.
There are an estimated 40,000 religious prisoners in North Korea, including 6,000 Christians in the infamous Prison 15 in the country's north. Those prisoners are treated worse than other inmates, the report says, and those who are pregnant are sometimes forced to abort their children or their newborns are killed in the camps. …