Monday, May 18, 2009

Nigeria just made the list as one of 13 countries considered to be "egregious" violators of religious freedom. The list was created by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Commission recommended designating Nigeria and the other nations - "countries of particular concern" or CPC. The Commission made various recommendations to the Obama administration, Congress and others in the U.S. government and declared that

"CPC designation is not an end point, but the beginning of focused diplomatic activity ... from which important obligations in the form of consequent actions flow."

The countries on the list were -
  1. Myanmar
  2. North Korea
  3. Eritrea
  4. Iran
  5. Iraq
  6. Nigeria
  7. Pakistan
  8. China
  9. Saudi Arabia
  10. Sudan
  11. Turkmenistan
  12. Uzbekistan
  13. Vietnam
While I cannot immediately determine the parameters used to designate Nigeria a religiously intolerant country, I can definitely say that Nigeria has a way to go in creating sustainable peace between Christians and Muslims in certain parts of the country. It was only in November of 2008, when political discontent morphed into religious violence in Jos and resulted in the death of many hundreds of people. In fact, it is commonly accepted that most religious violence in Nigeria is impacted by political and economic realities which when stoked can result in life or death consequences. Both the Sultan of Sokoto, a respected political and religious leader in the Muslim North and Catholic Archbishop Onaiyekan, have publicly admitted that much of Nigeria's religious violence is manipulated by politicians. Nevertheless, Nigerian Christians and Muslims live, school and work together in relative peace in countless parts of the country.

One cannot avoid the fact that the mere option of marrying a person of a different religion is not available for many Nigerians. This issue has divided many a family and caused considerable tension for many individuals.

Despite all this, I believe the ultimate goal should be the eventual creation of a more tolerant society, regardless of the issues. Mutual respect for others, even when there are disagreements, will help foster peace and limit the repeat of the violence experienced by the people of Jos in 2008.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Religious & Political Violence in Jos

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Okey.Chukbyke C. said...

Have you ever thought why our (Nigerian) Muslims are much different i.e quicker in attacking as to defend their religion than other Muslims in our neighbourhood.?,....Senegal. Ivory Coast, Ghana,Tunisia, etc.
Ask an average Nigerian non Muslim who tours around he will tell you he is more relaxed while in Iran, Egypt,Dubai than while in the Northern Nigeria. Why?

Anonymous said...


I live in Nigeria and I can tell you that such intolerance is no longer tolerated. Apart from Jos where there were disturbances which were over exaggerated by the foreign press as usual, I can tell you that major efforts have been put in place by the state governments concerned to foil any religious attacks.

Whilst I will commend reports on Africa, I will encourage us to investigate and help to quell and not fan such reports. The foreign conglomerates are powerful enough to do that job, as bloggers we are powerful in our way to alert the public of the true version of events.

So to categorise Nigeria with Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, South Korea, Sudan, Iran and Iraq is not only far fetched but laughable....I cannot stop laughing....

taKia and God bless

Dojaa said...

I dont know about Nigeria being intolerant, personally I think there is too much religious tolerance in the Nigerian Government i.e no seperation of religion and state.

Onyeka said...

This list is extremely flawed in my opinion. If anything, I've always thought of Nigeria as extremely tolerant of both religions. I have Muslim friends, we go to the same schools, we live peacefully. I can't say for sure how things are in the north, but I don't hear enough stories of reliqious wars for us to be placed ABOVE friggin Pakistan!

To mention inter-religious marriage is irrelevant. Marriages are not a country issue. Any country you go to, people prefer to marry within their religion for personal/religious reasons. It's hardly a reason to call Nigeria intolerant.

I don't know who makes these lists for the American government, but it's getting absurd. On what basis are they coming up with this? And to rank us next to Iraq and Pakistan?


LoloBloggs said...

I have to wholeheartedly agree with Onyeka. Exactly what is the point of this kind of list? Cos it isn't just for information.

Propaganda agenda!!! Nigerians shouldn't be angry they have been ranked next to Iraq and Pakistan, they should be angry the list exists and worry about what that means. We have an idea of what the US is doing to those countries, so when do our "terrorist activities" start becoming of interest?!

Adaeze said...

Interesting topic.
I cannot say I know enough about government practices and I guess that is what we are talking about..Or is it? What basis does this list have? Government practices or acceptance in the population?
from my personal experience there is a lot of acceptance between muslims and christians especially in the larger cities, so I agree conflicts has more to do with socioeconomic factors. At the same time I would like to ask a rhetoric question - how big is the acceptance of people that falls out of the category muslim/christian - e.g. non believers? I am now talking about acceptance among the people/population, not the government (because I lack sufficient knowledge on that). And how much acceptance is there for traditional religions? For instance the traditional igbo festivals are shrinking due to christian influence and lots of people thinking that it's "evil" while I see it as purely a celebration/preservation of culture whether you believe in it or not. Sure sometimes it has to do with moving into the 21st centruy and forget about practices belonging to past centuries (like witch doctors and ogbanje) but wearing masks and dancing is quite innocent to me.....Just a thought. But sure I have to agree with others and ask what the point is...

Unknown said...

This is certainly a case of the pot calling the kettle black in many respects. Alas, the more our Heavenly Father shows me about my country, the more I naturally don't want to know.

Anya Posh said...

Kai..Sydelle, I don't like that work egregious...and now especially when it's being used to describe Naija. But let's say to some extent this rating is true, what will this now mean for Nigeria?! Are they using it as a scale to label nations? I mean putting Nigeria up there with Myanmar is a bit fallacious, don't you think?

This is bad for business especially now that Nigeria is trying to remodel its image to the world. More work needs to be done.

Unknown said...

SSD, i don't agree with this label. I am not saying there aren't problems (you constantly bring these issues to light) but putting Naija in the same category as Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar has to be a joke unless they have some info that we are not aware of. I mean, Nigeria is on the list but India isn't?

I want to know what the authors consider religious intolerance because as far as i know, most of the countries listed are places where there is state control of religious practices. So it is not clear to me how Nigeria fits in the list on that basis since The Nigerian federation is a secular one. We don't have any state sanctioned religion. The existence of Sharia law in a few states does not negate this: those state actions were not federally approved and they are a minority in the country.

I still don't see how Nigeria gets on the list if the ranking is on the basis of individual freedom of religion. Earlier commenters have discussed acceptance of people of different religions from experience. I would think Nigeria has a greater problem in the area of racism/tribalism than religious intolerance.

I join others in wondering what kind of foreign intervention this list will be used to justify since we are officially on the US' radar.

chayomao said...

wow this topic is hot oh!
how did we make this list and on what basis are they categorizing this?
Mscheewwww....exaggeration i tell you.

Omo Oba said...

I heard that Nigeria was on the list the other day on radio, and I was not surprised. Wasnt it the same country where they had to take the Miss world pageant away from us (to London) because of religious riots in Kaduna? Not that I care about Miss World or anything but that speaks volumes internationally. I have a friend who lived in Kaduna in a Baptist seminary. When she recalls how she and her family had to flee for their lives during one of the riots, it will send shivers down your spine that our country is far from religious tolerant. Great topic Solomonsydelle.

Anonymous said...

As Majek Fashek once said: Religion Is Politics!

Case in point:

The so called 'religious riots' in Jos began immediately after the local government elections which was won by largely 'christian' candidates. Forget the fact that they were also largely from a particular tribe in the state who are considered indigenes.

Go and check every single of the so called religious riots, they almost always come after a major election or government policy change.

If the people who compiled this list do not know that, then its unfortunate. It appears they have their own agenda and it will soon unfold.


Veracity said...

It is true that most of the religious intolerance is sponsored by politicians who use it as a divisive force to further their self-serving agendas. The government on the other hand does not investigate the spouts of religious riots. I don’t remember anybody being prosecuted (except perhaps Zamani Leqot in the Zango-Kataf pogrom, but even then it was really for the criticism of the dictatorship of the day)

Anonymous said...

Oh Please how many countries can boast of having almost an even population of Christians and Muslims, these people need to get their facts straight.

Unknown said...


I do not blame the people that rated us with Iraq, why? We have records of religious riots in the Northern part of this country that the whole world are aware of. 1991 riot when Rainhard Bonkey visited Kano State for Crusade, in the same state 2004, Kaduna and other Northern States have a very bad record concerning religion.But that reason is not enough to rate us Number 6 out of 13, well let us think about it.

Bilyamin Ibrahim Gusau said...

Quite touching indeed, dylle this is really a note you made, and I do agree with most of the guys here of on what basis is that list been created, and what is the US agenda regarding the above listed nations. The question here is it the north or the south, or you say the east, or the entire nation? If say action is to be taken per say, which of the two is to be considered is the Muslim or the Christian, because its like in all the cases one pushes the other to the wall and the later retaliates. Fellow Nigerians, regarding this list I strongly, believe that lot of questions are there to be asked. Unless, it is the riches or the resources that God had blessed us with the Americans are aiming as we seems to be not capable of managing what we have. No matter how bad the crisis are we are still much in peace than the IRAQ,PAKISTAN,IRAN etc. Remember always, we may speak different languages,believe in distinct faiths, even be of different political parties, and say come from different part of the country, as Nigerians our hearts will always beat as one.

Anonymous said...

Muslim-North,Christian-South,religious intolerance nation`s list?Mere ignorance or deliberate mischief to obscure some hidden,evil agenda by the imperial America?Sure,we do have recurrent crisis in a couple of Northern states but must that be used to lump the whole country in one single bin?If there`s a model to categorize Nigeria that model should be Lagos where people of different religious convictions and ethnic background co-habit,inter-marry and basically shared their lives together.It is mischievous of any individual or nation to place us on any list of intolerance.We`re tolerant of hijab,niqab,minaret and the mosque next door that most Europeans and Americans could not stand and equally tolerant of crucifix and the church next door that is not acceptable in most countries on that list.A few of the Northern states is just an exception and not the rule.American should stop profiling nations when it has no moral justification to do so,enough of the arrogance and hypocrisy.

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