President Barack Obama has been urged by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to speak out on the extreme sectarian violence that has led to Christians being slaughtered in churches in Nigeria, following a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
“We respectfully urge you, Mr. President, to strongly address with President Jonathan the importance of the Nigerian government arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators of sectarian violence,” USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George wrote to Obama on Monday before the meeting.
“The Nigerian government’s overreliance on the use of force to tackle communal and Boko Haram violence and its failure to promote rule of law and human rights will only further destabilize this important ally.”
Obama met with Jonathan in New York on Monday, where the two “reaffirmed their commitment to fighting terrorism” and ending the insurgency in northern Nigeria. The two presidents also promised to stay “in close touch” as the countries “continue to work together to promote our shared interests.”
Boko Haram, the shadowy Islamic organization in Nigeria, has been waging a war against Christians and the government of Jonathan for years, slaughtering thousands across Christian communities, schools, and churches in the predominantly Muslim Northern region.
Despite this open opposition to Christians and the Nigerian state, the White House has so far failed to label Boko Haram as a terrorist organization – something which groups like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have strongly spoken out against.