U.S. Releases International Religious Freedom Annual Report

Secretary Tillerson Delivers Remarks on the 2016 International Religious Freedom Report Photo: State Department
Secretary Tillerson Delivers Remarks on the 2016 International Religious Freedom Report Photo: State Department

U.S. has released annual report on international religious freedom on August 15, 2017.

In a press conference after releasing the report, the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “This report is a requirement pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 – legislation that upholds religious freedom as a core American value under the Constitution’s First Amendment, as well as a universal human right.”

Secretary Tillerson regretted that after almost 20 years of the U.S. law’s passage that aims to promote respect for religious freedom by all governments and peoples, “religious persecution and intolerance remains far too prevalent.”

According to the report “almost 80 percent of the global population live with restrictions on or hostilities to limit their freedom of religion.”

Mr. Tillerson said that the absence of religious freedom helps “‘violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root.’’

Secretary Tillerson said, “The Trump administration has committed to addressing these conditions in part by advancing international religious freedom around the world. The State Department will continue to advocate on behalf of those seeking to live their lives according to their faith.”

According to the report “almost 80 percent of the global population live with restrictions on or hostilities to limit their freedom of religion.”

The U.S. annual report on religious freedom “details the status of religious freedom in 199 countries and territories, and provides insights as to significant and growing challenges.”

The U.S. Secretary denounced IS for targeting “multiple religions and ethnic groups for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and even death.”

Secretary Tillerson criticized several Middle Eastern countries for restricting religious beliefs. He expressed worry over violation of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Bahrain and China.

“Turkey authorities continued to limit the human rights of members of some religious minority groups, and some communities continue to experience protracted property disputes,” said Secretary Tillerson.

Mr. Tillerson said that the report finds Bahraini government of continuing “to question, detain, and arrest Shia clerics, community members, and opposition politicians.”

The report denounces China of torturing, detaining, and imprisoning thousands for practicing religious beliefs. Secretary Tillerson said, “Police – policies that restrict Uighur Muslims’ and Tibetan Buddhists’ religious expression and practice have increased.”

Rex Tillerson expressed worry about religious restriction and violation of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Tillerson said, “We remain concerned about the state of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. The government does not recognize the right of non-Muslims to practice their religion in public and applied criminal penalties, including prison sentences, lashings, and fines, for apostasy, atheism, blasphemy, and insulting the state’s interpretation of Islam.”

Expressing deep worry about the oppression on Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Mr Tillerson said, “Of particular concern are attacks targeting Shia Muslims, and the continued pattern of social prejudice and discrimination against them. We urge Saudi Arabia to embrace greater degrees of religious freedom for all of its citizens.”


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