President Barack Hussein Obama was criticized by human rights activists for not addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities during his talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is banned.
According to the Washington-based International Christian Concern (ICC) advocacy group, Obama did not "publicly broach the subject of religious freedom" during talks on March 28 with Saudi King Abdullah, despite a letter from some 70 members of Congress urging him to "address specific human rights reforms" both in public and in direct meetings with Abdullah and other officials.
"This visit was an excellent opportunity for the president to speak up on an issue that affects millions of Saudi citizens and millions more foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia," said Todd Daniels, ICC's Middle East regional manager, adding that it was "remarkable that the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom" despite pressure from Congress "to publicly address the issue, as well as other human rights concerns, with King Abdullah..."
U.S. officials reportedly responded by saying that "Obama had not had time to raise concerns about the kingdom's human rights record."
Separately, after the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) brought together the governors of Nigeria's mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region's only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang, an ordained minister, citing "administrative" problems. The USIP confirmed that all 19 northern governors were invited, but the organization did not respond to requests for comments on why they would hold talks without the region's only Christian governor.