Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today denounced the recent attacks by Boko Haram faction Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) against innocent civilians in northern Nigeria.
“Recent ISWAP attacks on innocent civilians are reprehensible,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava. “Hundreds have died in recent weeks as ISWAP continues to inflict terror and target civilians based on their beliefs. We condemn this deplorable violence.”
Earlier this month, suspected ISWAP fighters killed 81 people when they attacked Foduma Kolomaiya village in northeast Nigeria. ISWAP then claimed responsibility for twin attacks that killed 20 soldiers and more than 40 civilians in Borno State on June 13.
“The Nigerian government needs to be doing more to protect the freedom of religion, particularly in the northeast region. Over two years after ISWAP abducted Leah Sharibu, it is unacceptable to see the group continue to inflict such devastation on the Nigerian people,” stated USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins, who advocates for Leah Sharibu as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project.
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate Nigeria as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, and that Boko Haram be designated an “entity of particular concern,” or EPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
USCIRF has also expressed concern regarding the state enforcement of Shari’a laws in northern Nigeria in last year’s report on Shari’ah Criminal Law in Northern Nigeria.