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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.

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U.S.-Egyptian Relations in the Age of ISIS April 3rd Event

The Syrian Crisis: American Interests and Moral Considerations March 10th Event

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Media Coverage

Nina Shea quoted by McClatchy on Gov. Brownback’s consideration for Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom

Nina Shea quoted by Religion News Service on the deportation of Chaldean Christians to Iraq

Nina Shea quoted by CNA on the religious freedom defense in the first U.S. FGM case

Nina Shea quoted in The Atlantic on the topic of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 2016

Nina Shea quoted in Reuters on Pope Francis and the persecution of Middle East Christians

Nina Shea quoted in Washington Post on the need for the Trump administration to protect persecuted Christians overseas

Nina Shea quoted in Express on the Palm Sunday terror attack in Egypt

Nina Shea quoted in LifeZette on the jizya, the tax imposed on Christians by ISIS in Iraq

Nina Shea quoted in The Australian on Christians in Lebanon being too afraid to enter UNHCR refugee camps

Nina Shea quoted in Washington Examiner on the anniversary of the U.N.‘s Christian genocide designation

Nina Shea quoted in National Catholic Register on the need for President Trump to issue an executive order to help the genocide survivors of ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Nina Shea quoted in Christian Post on Islamic slavery and free speech

Nina Shea quoted in Washington Times on President Trump’s temporary travel ban granting preferred refugee status to persecuted religious minorities

Nina Shea quoted in USA Today and The Jerusalem Post on the US’s past reliance on the UN High Commissioner on Refugees to vet potential immigrants

Nina Shea quoted in the Washington Post on Syrian Christians in UN refugee camps

Nina Shea quoted in The Economist on the future of Syria’s inter-faith relations

Nina Shea quoted in National Catholic Register on President Obama signing the International Religious Freedom Act

Nina Shea quoted in America Magazine on ISIS’s treatment of Christians

Nina Shea quoted in Crux on the importance of Iraqi Christians return to their homes in Nineveh

Nina Shea quoted in Washington Times on the U.S.‘s quota for Christian refugees

Nina Shea in quoted in World Watch Monitor on the Christian refugee crisis in Iraq

Nina Shea’s interview with Quick to Listen written up in Christianity Today

Nina Shea quoted in Fox News on the Obama administration deprioritizing Christian refugees from Syria

Nina Shea quoted in Christian Post on the heightened regulatory approach to religious faith

Nina Shea’s talk on Iraqi Christians written up in Christian Post

Nina Shea featured in a Lapidomedia article on the Christian genocide

Nina Shea quoted in Baptist Press on the death by bulldozer of a woman in China protesting the destruction of her church

Nina Shea quoted in Jerusalem Post on ISIS’s genocide of Christians in the Middle East and First Things

Nina Shea quoted in The Economist on the State Department’s genocide designation

Nina Shea quoted in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Senator Cotton’s proposef bill, “The Religious Persecution Relief Act.”

Nina Shea quoted in Christian Science Monitor on the House of Representatives voting to declare ISIS’s actions ‘genocide’

Nina Shea quoted in Religion News on the Knights of Columbus’s report on what has happened to Christians in the path of ISIS

Nina Shea quoted in EWTN News on the ongoing Christian genocide in the Middle East

Nina Shea’s National Review article on executions of Christians in ISIS-controlled territory quoted in Deseret News

Nina Shea quoted in Christian News on the prospects of establishing a safe zone for persecuted Christians and Yazidis in Iraq

Nina Shea quoted in World Mag on the backlash against the “genocide” label applying to Middle East Christians

Nina Shea quoted in __Christian Post announcing the “religious freedom scorecard:

Nina Shea interviewed in National Catholic Register on Iraqi Christians displaced by ISIS

Nina Shea and the Center for Religious Freedom’s project to rescue Iraqi Christians from a Kurdistan refugee camp written up in Deseret News, Aleteia and was the focus of an hour long special on ABC’s 20/20 that aired Friday, December 18th

Nina Shea interviewed by NPR on the need to declare Middle East Christian refugees as genocide victims of ISIS

The Center for Religious Freedom’s efforts in helping more than 100 Iraqi Christian refugees escape ISIS cited in ABC News

Nina Shea quoted in The Hill on Christian Syrians being targeted by ISIS

Nina Shea quoted in National Catholic Register on genocide designation for Christian refugees

Nina Shea quoted in Congressional Testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding vulnerable religious minority refugees

Nina Shea quoted in USA Today on ISIL’s treatment of Middle East Christians

Nina Shea and other experts seek meeting with John Kerry to urge that Christian victims be included in a forthcoming State Dept. finding of genocide by ISIS

Nina Shea’s report on religous intolerance found in Saudi textbooks cited in The Hill