Deborah Yakubu’s Murder Created An International Uproar

Deborah Yakubu was a Christian student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto state, Nigeria. She was beaten, stoned and her body burned May 12 by students who accused her of making blasphemous comments against the Prophet Mohammed in an online classroom group. Yakubu had allegedly cautioned her Muslim counterparts to stop making religious posts on the WhatsApp group chat.

Blasphemy is punishable under Nigeria’s secular law and well as Islamic law, known as Sharia. Human rights groups have launched a petition demanding authorities expunge blasphemy from the constitution.

Nigerian Christians recently held a national remembrance for Yakubu. The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said Sunday’s protest for Deborah Yakubu was a reminder of the many threats to religious freedom in the country. Timothy Obiezu reports from Abuja. Read more.


Speak Freedom Conference Comes to Samford University

21Wilberforce and the Baptist World Alliance are co-hosting SPEAK FREEDOM, a one-day conference to be held at Samford University on July 9, 2022. Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement. You are invited to attend the leadership conference that will focus on living with passion, leading with excellence and leading systemic change. Participants will convene, connect, and contribute to a shared agenda for developing leaders in the struggle for justice. Learn more and register here.


‘No Escape’ details the history of Uyghurs in China

As a human rights attorney and Uyghur activist who now serves on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Turkel tells his personal story to help explain the urgency and scope of the Uyghur crisis. Born in 1970 in a reeducation camp, he was lucky enough to survive and eventually make his way to the US, where he became the first Uyghur to receive an American law degree. Since then, he has worked as a prominent lawyer, activist, and spokesperson for his people. The Uyghur crisis is turning into the greatest human rights crisis of the twenty-first century, a systematic cleansing of an entire race of people in the millions. Read more. Watch a brief interview with Turkel.


Frank R. Wolf Appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently welcomed the reappointment of Nury Turkel, as well as the appointment of Frank R. Wolf and David G. Curry to the Commission. Nury Turkel was appointed to a second two-year term by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Frank R. Wolf and David G. Curry were both appointed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to serve two-year terms.

Frank R. Wolf was formerly a distinguished senior fellow of the 21Wilberforce. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years, representing the 10th district of the state of Virginia and was a former co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Frank Wolf’s advocacy in Congress was integral to the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Read more.

In 2018, 21Wilberforce launched the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Award to recognized outstanding champions who stand up to oppression, even at great personal risk, in the pursuit of freedom of religion, belief or conscience.


Content Moderation Online and its Impact on Religious Freedom

To combat the human rights and religious freedom violations that have occurred as a result of online hate speech, some social media companies now regulate speech on their platforms. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms often have rules that ban certain types of speech-including hate speech directed at religious communities. However, the excess removal of speech can also impact the right to religious freedom and religious expression of users. Lou Ann Sabatier, Director of Communications for 21Wilberforce, joined USCIRF’s Dwight Bashir to discuss content moderation and its impact on freedom of religion or belief globally. Listen here.



Working with local Christian nonprofits Vila Minha Pátria, Virginia-based 21Wilberforce, and the Baptist World Alliance, organizers ensured the arriving Afghans received sponsors and assistance, plus Portuguese classes to help integrate them into Brazilian society. Read more here.

The Local Changemakers Course is a series of nine workshops, designed to enable groups of adults and young people to learn about, value and promote freedom of religion or belief for all in their communities. Learn more about this free course here.

You are invited to attend IRF Summit 2022 in Washington, DC (or virtual) June 28th – June 30th. Learn more here.