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Nina Shea

Director, Center for Religious Freedom

An international human-rights lawyer for over thirty years, Nina Shea joined Hudson Institute as a Senior Fellow in November 2006, where she directs the Center for Religious Freedom. Shea works extensively for the advancement of individual religious freedom and other human rights in U.S. foreign policy as it confronts an ascendant Islamic extremism, as well as nationalist and remnant communist regimes. She undertakes scholarship and advocacy in defense of those persecuted for their religious beliefs and identities and on behalf of diplomatic measures to end religious repression and violence abroad, whether from state actors or extremist groups.

Shea was appointed by the U.S. House of Representatives to serve seven terms as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (June 1999 - March 2012). During the Soviet era, Shea’s first client before the United Nations was Soviet Nobel Peace Laureate Andrei Sakharov. Since then, she has been appointed as a U.S. delegate to the United Nation's main human rights body by both Republican and Democratic administrations. She also served as a member of the Clinton administration's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. In 2009, she was appointed to serve as a member of the U.S. National Commission to UNESCO.

Shea played a leading role in building grassroot support for the adoption of the International Religious Freedom Act (1998). For seven years ending in 2005, she helped organize and lead a coalition of churches and religious groups that worked to end a religious war against non-Muslims and dissident Muslims in southern Sudan. In 2014, she initiated and helped lead a coalition of hundreds of prominent American religious leaders to issue The Pledge of Solidarity for Persecuted Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian Christians and Other Minorities, which was released by a bi-partisan Congressional panel on May 7. In summer 2014, she met with Pope Francis to discuss the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

At Hudson, she has organized conferences for Nigerian schoolgirls and others who survived Boko Haram attacks, Christian converts formerly imprisoned in Iran, Coptic bishops from Egypt, Catholic bishops from China and the Gulf, Muslim scholars, and many others. Shea advocates in the nation's capital on behalf of a broad range of persecuted religious minorities around the world; and, for such work, was honored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA with the Community's inaugural "Ahmadiyya Muslim Humanitarian Award."

She has authored and/or edited four widely-acclaimed reports on Saudi state educational materials that promote extremist views and in 2011 had an opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia and speak directly about her findings with the Ministers of Education, Justice and Islamic Affairs. Her reports include: Ten Years On: Saudi Arabia's Textbooks Still Promote Religious Violence (2011), Update: Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance (2008), Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance (2006), and Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques (2005), all of which translated and analyzed Saudi governmental publications that teach hatred and violence against the religious "other."

She is the co-author of Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide, with a Foreword by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, the former President of Indonesia and head of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world's largest Muslim organization (Oxford University Press, 2011). Her most recent book, which she also co-authored, is Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2013). She regularly presents testimony before Congress, delivers public lectures, organizes briefings and conferences, and writes frequently on religious freedom issues. Her writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CQ Researcher, Weekly Standard, National Review Online, CNN, Fox, The Daily Beast, HuffingtonPost, and RealClearWorld, among others.

For the ten years prior to joining Hudson, Shea worked at Freedom House, where she directed the Center for Religious Freedom, an entity which she had helped found in 1986 as the Puebla Institute.

She is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia. She is a graduate of Smith College, and American University's Washington College of Law.

Past Events

Back to Nina Shea

A Survivor’s Account of Boko Haram’s Religious Cleansing in Nigeria May 13th Event

Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity

The Rise of Islamism: Its Impact on Religious Minorities

Captive in Iran

Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians

Across the Frontlines: Ending the Nuba Genocide

The Arab Spring: One Year On

The Coptic Winter: What Does the Massacre at Maspero Mean for Egypt's Christians?

Pakistan at the Crossroads: Rising Radicalism

South Sudan: Voices of a New Nation

How Should the U.S. Respond to the Prospect of Islamist Governments?

Egypt, Its Revolution and Future: How Should the U.S. Respond?

How Necessary Is Christianity to European Identity?

The Organization of the Islamic Conference: Fatwas on Freedom and Democracy

Perspectives on Sudan'’s Upcoming Elections