U.S. President George Bush says he will continue to press for greater
religious freedom in his meetings with world leaders - including those
in China. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports Mr. Bush spoke at a ceremony
marking the 10th anniversary of legislation designed to promote
religious freedom around the world.
The president says in too many countries, too many people lack the right to worship as they please.
thoughts turn especially to countries where religious freedom is of
particular concern," said President Bush. "Some of these nations have
taken steps toward reform. Others have not."
In remarks on the
10th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act, the
president made specific mention of Iran, Eritrea, Sudan, North Korea,
Burma, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. But his most detailed remarks
concerned the treatment of those seeking religious freedom in China.
Bush spoke about his recent meeting in Washington with a Chinese
human-rights lawyer named Li Baiguang who is a devout Protestant.
his work he has been repeatedly jailed and attacked," he said. "A few
months ago, he was scheduled to meet with members of Congress. State
authorities blocked the meeting and detained Li on the outskirts of
President Bush said he has brought up the need for
greater religious freedom in China in past meetings with Chinese
President Hu Jintao. He has indicated he plans to do so again when he
travels to Beijing next month for the opening of the summer Olympic
"Wherever and whenever I meet leaders, I am going to
constantly remind them they ought to welcome religion in their society,
not fear it," said Mr. Bush.
Mr. Bush made his comments to a
small audience made up largely of members of Congress who pushed the
International Religious Freedom Act through the legislature in 1998.
Among other things, it set up a U.S. commission to monitor religious
rights around the world, established the position of an ambassador for
religious freedom, and authorized the use of sanctions against nations
that deny their people the right to worship as they see fit.