News / USA

US Sees 'Climate of Intolerance' on Global Religious Freedom

"Countries of particular concern" are countries that are considered to commit "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."
"Countries of particular concern" are countries that are considered to commit "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."
VOA News
The United States said the right to global religious freedom was challenged last year, with governments often creating a "climate of intolerance" leading to hatred and violence.

In an annual report, the State Department said Monday government officials worldwide are often allowed to act with impunity while violating the religious rights of their countrymen. It said there often is uneven enforcement of religious freedom laws and introduction of new restrictions.

Secretary of State John Kerry said religious freedom is "the birthright of every human being," but is often restricted.

The chief U.S. diplomat said religious freedom throughout the world is a national security concern for the U.S.

“When countries undermine or attack religious freedom, they not only unjustly threaten those who they target, they also threaten their countries’ own stability.
And we see that in so many places," said Kerry. "Attacks on religious freedom are therefore both a moral and a strategic national security concern for the United States.”

He said the State Department found a "troubling" increase in anti-Semitism and named a new aide to monitor the problem. The report cited abuses in several countries, particularly in Venezuela, Egypt and Iran.

Kerry said there is a growing number of blasphemy and apostasy laws that often violate religious freedoms and are applied in a discriminatory manner. The report singled out Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran and Eritrea for its pursuit of cases against individuals accusing them of blasphemy.

The report called Christians "a leading target of societal discrimination and abuse" in some parts of the world. But it also said Muslims, especially minority branches of Islam, also suffered, especially if they were considered by the majority to be "heretical or foreign."

The U.S. law on religious freedom calls for naming other countries it considers to be committing "particularly severe violations of religious freedom." Under the law, the State Department two years ago named eight nations as "countries of particular concern" - Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

The report said the respect for religious freedom declined in China and Iran in 2012 and stayed the same in the other six countries.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid