A new U.S. State Department report on religious freedom around the world lists China as one of the top violators. The study says China harshly scrutinizes unapproved religious and spiritual groups. Chinese officials are also trying to control the growth of religions that are not government-sanctioned. In Washington Monday, U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell said there is no excuse for religious intolerance.
“This report will serve as the basis for discussions with other nations on best we can work together to end violations of this fundamental human right and how to advance religious liberty around the globe.”
Besides China, Pakistan and Iraq are listed as countries which view religious worship as a threat to government-approved religions. U.S. Ambassador John Hanford says some governments tolerate and even use harassment against those who practice other faiths.
“In India, this dynamic led to the deaths of upwards of 1,000 Muslims who were killed in reprisal for the earlier massacre of some 60 Hindu pilgrims. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws have led to persecution of Christians and Amadis.”
Ambassador Hanford warned the world needs to be aware of those who use religion to carry out terrorist acts.
“Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida, who define themselves and their goals in religious terms, are growing in number. They destroy not only adherents of other religions, but also co-religionists who reject their methods or goals.”
Both Secretary Powell and Ambassador Hanford hope to use the report to change religious intolerance and bring relief to its victims. One the positive side, the study says Afghanistan’s religious freedom has improved since U.S. led military strikes helped overthrow the Taleban regime.