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Monday, 17 June 2013

Nigerian Govt Responsible For Religious Crisis - US

By: Abiodun Oluwarotimi 
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has accused the Nigerian government for being responsible for the religious crises in the country, stressing that the government's violation of religious freedom in connection with its stance on extremism caused most of the violence.
The Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, while testifying before the National Security Subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday, said that other countries like Egypt, China and Russia also engage in the act of repressing Muslims in the name of fighting extremism in Muslim communities.
Dr. Swett pressed further that: "Governments are responsible for religious freedom abuses within their borders, including those driven by violent religious extremism. Such abuses are harmful not only to human rights, but also to the stability of their societies and that of other countries"
He added that reports had shown that unlike Nigeria, the countries that honor religious freedom enjoy greater stability, harmony, and prosperity while women have higher status in such societies. "While countries that perpetrate or tolerate violations create the conditions for failed societies" he noted.
Swett maintained that in Nigeria, protection of religious freedom continued to falter, as Boko Haram attacked Christians, as well as fellow Muslims opposing them, and inflamed tension between Christians and Muslims.
He added that Nigeria's government had repeatedly failed to prosecute perpetrators of religiously-related violence that had killed more than 14,000 Nigerians, both Christians and Muslims, fostering a climate of impunity.
He however, recommended that the United States should take a stronger action to make the governments of Nigeria, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam and Tajikistan realize their failures as regards the fight against terrorism and religious killings.
The United States official noted that taking a stronger action against such countries or designating them was not the end of the United States diplomatic engagements with them, adding that the idea was rather the beginning of a high-level process to encourage governments to improve.
His words: "When combined with the prospect of sanctions or other actions, the designation can create political will where none existed, moving repressive governments to undertake needed changes"
He continued that failure to act by the affected countries including Nigeria by August, 2013, the United States would send a terrible message about its commitment to this important issue.
Speaking on Monitoring Mechanisms, the official said that the Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, had been mandated to establish measures consisting of lists of persons believed to be imprisoned, detained, or placed under house arrest by these governments for their religious faith, together with brief evaluations and critiques of the policies of the respective country restricting religious freedom.

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