News / USA

US Cites Eight Countries for Religion Curbs

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds to reporter's questions at the US Department of State, September  13, 2011.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responds to reporter's questions at the US Department of State, September 13, 2011.

A State Department report is citing eight countries including Iran, China and Saudi Arabia as major violators of religious freedom.  Turkey and Pakistan, among others, were praised for efforts to ease conditions for religious minorities.

The 1998 act of Congress that mandates the annual religious freedom reports provides for no severe penalties against countries that limit religious freedom.

But at a roll-out event for the new report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the yearly exercise is a key element of U.S. foreign policy, and that religious tolerance is essential for sustainable democracy and peaceful societies. “People who have a voice in how they are governed, no matter what their identity, ethnicity of religion, are more likely to have a stake in both their government’s and their society’s success," she noted.  "That is good for stability, for American national security and for global security.”

The new report cites the same eight countries as last year as the most severe violators of religious freedom, the so-called “countries of particular concern.”

They are Burma, China and North Korea in Asia, Iran and Uzbekistan, U.S. Middle East ally Saudi Arabia, and neighboring African countries Sudan and Eritrea.

Clinton said Iranian authorities continue to repress evangelical Christians, Jews, Bahai’s, and non-Shia Muslims.

But she said that in the region, not all the threats are government-inspired, citing this week’s killing of 22 Shia pilgrims by extremists in Iraq.

She said respecting religious diversity will be key to the long-term success of new governments in the Middle East and North Africa that are taking shape in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring” unrest.

“The people of the region have taken exciting first steps toward democracy.  But if they hope to consolidate their gains, they cannot trade one form of repression for another,” Clinton explained.

The secretary applauded the Turkish government’s recent decree allowing non-Muslims to reclaim churches and synagogues confiscated by the government 75 years ago, and a decision striking down a ban on the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women college students.

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner welcomed Pakistani government actions after the assassination of two prominent opponents of a controversial blasphemy law, including creation of a Ministry of National Harmony to protect religious minorities.

But he lamented recent government moves against non-sanctioned religious groups in China, which he said are part of a general deterioration of human-rights conditions there since early this year.

“We have concerns about the Uighur community and restrictions on Muslim religion.  We have concerns about the Tibetan community - the Kirti monastery where 300 (Buddhist) monks were taken from their monastery and detained.  So there is a broader pattern of religious and other persecution that is part of a broader human rights problem," Posner said.

Posner said the United States will continue to speak out in international forums against curbs on religious practice in Iran and North Korea, countries with which the United States has no diplomatic relations.

He said such action reinforces activists in those countries, who understand and know that the United States is “listening and paying attention.”

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid