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 US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid