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Woman testifies about brutality of Islamic extremism in Nigeria

A Muslim woman who formerly lived in Nigeria and witnessed persecution firsthand criticised the Nigerian government's response to the rampant violence impacting millions and told a top United States religious freedom oversight body that the country is a "time bomb" in dire need of reform.


The bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, tasked with advising the federal government and Congress on global religious freedom issues, hosted a panel on Wednesday to discuss “extremism and government inaction” in Nigeria.  

Hafsat Maina Muhammed, the founder of Choice for Peace, Gender and Development, shared that as an outspoken Muslim woman living in the northeastern region of Nigeria, she faced persecution from both Boko Haram terrorists and the government.

She said she faced persecution because she is a Muslim and a woman, saying “there is a way a Muslim woman should behave act or be in the society […] Every day, I ask, why was I persecuted because I am a Muslim woman? Why should I act the way they want me to act or believe the way they want me to believe?”

She continued that Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group that has displaced millions and killed thousands in northeast Nigeria in the past several years, “unleashed mayhem” in her local government, state, and on her personally.   

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