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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.

Featured Research

Destroying Pakistan

Nina Shea & Farahnaz Ispahani

Nina Shea and Farahnaz Ispahani on the persecution of Christians for "blasphemy"...

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In the Media

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Past Events

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Boko Haram, the Islamic State's West African Franchise March 23rd Event

Prospects for Christians in the Path of Persecution March 18th Event

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All Scholarship

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Media Coverage

Nina Shea’s event, Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise, written up in Christian Post

Nina Shea quoted in National Catholic Register on combating ISIS propaganda

Nina Shea quoted in Fox News on the persecution of Christians

Nina Shea quoted in the American Spectator on President Obama’s remarks during the National Prayer Breakfast about Christian failure

Nina Shea quoted in National Catholic Register on Pope Francis visiting China

Paul Marshall and Nina Shea’s book Silenced quoted in Newsday on radical Islam

Nina Shea quoted in Weekly Standard Online on the Benghazi attack and the scapegoated filmmaker

Husain Haqqani and Nina Shea discuss ISIS and the future of the Middle East at NYC’s 92nd Street Y.

Nina Shea’s National Review article on hate-speech laws referenced in The Economist

Nina Shea quoted in Washington Post on the foreign policy implications of Islamic extremism

Nina Shea quoted in Breitbart on the cultural genocide of Christians

Nina Shea quoted in Christian Today on the Islamisation of Iraq

Nina Shea quoted in The Jerusalem Post on Islamism and the religious cleansing of Middle East Christians

Nina Shea quoted in Deseret News on ISIS’s attacks on Christians

Nina Shea quoted in Aleteia on the lack of religious freedom in Cuba

Nina Shea quoted in Aleteia on Castro’s Cuba and its threats to religious freedom

Nina Shea quoted in Aleteia on Pakistan’s blasphemy law

Nina Shea quoted in Christian Post on the persecution of Middle East Christians by Islamic Extremists

Nina Shea quoted in Washington Times on terrorism in Pakistan

Nina Shea quoted in Aleteia on kidnapped Christians in Syria and Iraq

Nina Shea quoted in Fox News on religious cleansing in Saudi Arabia

Nina Shea quoted in Associated Press on the Islamic State and the plight of religious minorities

Nina Shea quoted in Daily Caller on the dwindling number of Christians in the Middle East

Nina Shea quoted in National Review Online on the plight of the Yazidis in Iraq

Nina Shea quoted in Aleteia on Meriam Ibrahim’s persecution in Sudan

Nina Shea quoted in The American Conservative on the threat of ISIS to Iraq’s Christians

Nina Shea quoted in National Catholic Register on the role of the papacy in religious freedom

Nina Shea quoted in (Denmark) on Christianity in the Muslim World

Nina Shea quoted in The Telegraph on apostasy from Islam

Nina Shea quoted in WorldNetDaily on the U.S. State Department’s understanding of Boko Haram

Nina Shea quoted in The Economist‘s Eurasmus blog on Boko Haram and Nigeria

Nina Shea quoted in Catholic News Agency on the Boko Haram kidnappings

CRF’s Nina Shea and a broad coalition of religious freedom advocates release a landmark Pledge of Solidarity and Call to Action on behalf of Christians and other small religious communities in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

Nina Shea quoted in Christianity Today on religious freedom in Vietnam

Nina Shea quoted in Christian Science Monitor on Syrian Christians

Rep. Frank Wolf (VA) cites work of Nina in U.S. House floor speech calling on USG to do more to protect Christians in Syria.

Nina Shea quoted in Deseret News on a religious freedom envoy for religious minority groups

Writing in the WSJ, Senator Marco Rubio names Persecuted: The Global Assault On Christians (ThomasNelson) his “favorite book of 2013.”

Nina Shea’s work in promoting religious freedom cited in the New York Times.