Nigeria: Religious Freedom

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of religious freedom and tolerance in Nigeria.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Nigeria is a secular state and the right to freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution. Communities of different religions live together peacefully across most of Nigeria. However, for many decades Nigeria has experienced episodes of serious religious conflict, including between Muslim and Christian communities. The drivers of violence are complex and rooted in ethnic and religious identities, politics and access to resources.

For more than a decade, Islamic insurgents including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), have caused immense suffering to both Muslim and Christian populations in the North East of the country. The groups seek to undermine the right to freedom of religion by attacking indiscriminately those who do not subscribe to their extremist views. We are appalled by and condemn these attacks, including a recent increase in attacks on Christians in December 2019.

The UK is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world. We are a strong voice internationally in defence of this fundamental right. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all Nigerians.

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