Today I attended the “Mitigating Religious Conflict in Nigeria” event at the CSIS here in Washington, DC.
Two Main Takeaways:
1) There is a difference of opinion between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as to the extent of religious freedom currently enjoyed by Nigerians. Today’s speakers were from USCIRF. Very knowledgeable, articulate people.
U.S. DoS – violence demarcated by ethic, political, etc. lines
USCIRF – people are being killed because of their religion
USCIRF experts say that what is left out of the DoS analysis is the opinion on the ground in Nigeria, that people understand they’re being killed “as Muslims” or “as Christians”.
My thoughts: I found the USCIRF report very credible.
2) But for high level corruption within the Nigerian government, there would not be the religious violence that exists in the country today.
My question: “Can you talk about the nature of the corruption that stymies internal policing? Is it in the form of bribes, extortion, etc?”
They said $billions get lost, cops don’t get paid, and then cops get bribed to look the other way. Vertical integration graft.
My thoughts: This means internal policing is a systemic problem, not very easily solved. USCIRF’s recommendations to the USG are aimed at leveraging US power in Nigeria – we want religious intolerance to become taboo. Again, I find the USCIRF strategy very credible.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser Vice Chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
Tiffany Lynch Senior Policy Analyst, USCIRF