News / Africa

    US Commission Cites Egypt for Violating Religious Freedoms

    Coptic Christians gather in Rome,  to demand religious freedom and protection following a New Year's church attack in Egypt that killed 21 worshipers (File Photo)
    Coptic Christians gather in Rome, to demand religious freedom and protection following a New Year's church attack in Egypt that killed 21 worshipers (File Photo)

    For the first time, an independent U.S. commission is recommending Egypt be added to a list of the world’s worst violators of religious liberty. The recommendation was contained in the Commission on International Religious Freedom's annual report.

    The bipartisan commission says Egypt’s religious minorities, like Coptic Christians, have faced severe repression before and after the departure of former President Hosni Mubarak.  

    "In his [Mubarak’s] waning months, religious freedom conditions were rapidly deteriorating, and since his departure, we have seen nothing to indicate that these conditions have improved," said Commission-chairman Leonard Leo.

    Leo pointed to recent attacks targeting Christians and other groups in Egypt, including the January bombing of a church in Alexandria.

    "The severe level of violence, and the failure to convict those responsible, continue to foster a climate of impunity, making violence more likely.  Despite the transitional government’s efforts to dismantle the state’s repressive security apparatus, Egypt’s state of emergency remains, and laws and practices that discriminate continue to hinder religious freedom," he said.


    Egypt is one of 14 nations the commission is recommending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton designate as a "country of particular concern" for religious liberty violations. The commission recommends the Obama administration redirect some U.S. military assistance for Egypt towards efforts to protect Coptic Christians and other groups.

    Other nations cited by the commission include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

    Iran has been on the State Department’s list since 1999.  Commission-member Nina Shea describes violations of religious freedom there as systematic, egregious, and ongoing.

    "Since the disputed June 2009 elections, human-rights and religious-freedom conditions in Iran have regressed to a point not seen since the early days of the Islamic revolution.  In the past year religious minorities, in particular Baha’is, Christians and Sufi Muslims, faced intensified physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrests, and imprisonment," Shea said.

    In China, the report notes what it calls a marked deterioration in the treatment of Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims.  Commission-member Felice Gaer did note some progress as far as the attitudes of China’s leadership.

    "Some senior-level government officials, including President Hu Jintao, have acknowledged the positive role religious communities can play.  There are reports now that the government is considering legalizing charitable activities of recognized religious organizations.  However, in the last year the Chinese government has issued new guidelines that emphasize guiding or forcing unregistered Protestants to worship in state-sanctioned churches, that require Muslims to pass political tests to go on a religious pilgrimage, and to better-manage Tibetan Buddhist monasteries," Gaer said.

    Some nations cited by the commission, like China, have objected to U.S. assessments of human-rights conditions, including religious freedom, as interference in their domestic affairs.

    In addition to citing countries of particular concern regarding freedom of worship, the commission named 10 nations on a "watch list" for religious liberty violations: Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora