On January 17, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain traveled to Nouakchott, Mauritania, where he met with Mauritanian President Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani. Ambassador Hussain and President Ghazouani discussed a range of human rights and security issues. While in Nouakchott, Ambassador Hussain also met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, and Nigerian National Security Advisor Babagana Monguno and discussed human rights and civilian security issues, including efforts to address the threat of violent extremism in the region and the need to protect those targeted by terrorist groups.
The Ambassador also met with Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha to discuss continuing efforts of the OIC, OIC countries, and religious scholars to condemn unacceptable restrictions on girls’ and women’s education and employment in Afghanistan. Ambassador Hussain commended leaders in the region for continuing to work with civil society, including religious actors, and noted the importance of encouraging interfaith tolerance and peacebuilding.
Finally, Ambassador Hussain met with other key government officials and civil society from across Africa, including women and youth leaders, while attending the Africa Forum for Peace. The Ambassador emphasized the need to bolster relationships with and expand space for civil society partners to help advance religious freedom on both the governmental and grassroots levels.