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 -
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
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