Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined that Nigeria and India do not meet the threshold to be designated as “countries of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act, the State Department confirmed to The Daily Signal.

Though the State Department is still refusing to designate either of those nations as a “Country of Particular Concern,” or CPC, the State Department press office told The Daily Signal that it is concerned about some Nigerian state governments’ enforcement of blasphemy laws against the African nation’s citizens who are expressing their religious beliefs and about the attacks on religious minority communities in India.

The State Department’s response to The Daily Signal comes as international religious freedom advocates press the department to explain why the Biden administration excluded Nigeria and India from a list of nations with severe violations of religious freedom.

In a letter first obtained by The Daily Signal, more than 40 religious freedom experts and organizations pointed out that since 2009, more than 50,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria, and 18,000 churches and 2,500 Christian schools have been attacked. They also cited India, where they say that between 200 and 400 churches and 3,500 Christian homes have been attacked just since last May.

A “Country of Particular Concern” can be so designated by the secretary of state if a nation is engaged in those sorts of severe violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

The IRFA defines “particularly severe violations of religious freedom as systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, including violations such as torture, degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, abduction or clandestine detention, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”

Under then-President Donald Trump’s administration, Nigeria was designated as a CPC. President Joe Biden’s administration removed that designation, but it’s not clear why. The State Department did not further clarify that to The Daily Signal.

Asked again on Thursday about the matter, a State Department official gave EWTN a similar response.

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