International Religious Freedom Report Release

Source: Baptist Standard

During a press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveiled a new global religious freedom report.

The 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom identifies both shortcomings and areas of progress. Remarking on key findings, Secretary Blinken noted many governments continue to disregard the rights and the faiths of their citizens especially in multiethnic states.

Joined by Rashad Hussain, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Blinken noted global bright spots such as:

–        Morocco which introduced Jewish history into its public school curriculum;

–        Arabic countries support for the restoration of historic churches and synagogues; and

–        Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq.

Additionally, Blinken said, “From Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia; Jews in Europe; Baha’is in Iran; Christians in North Korea, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia; Muslims in Burma and China; Catholics in Nicaragua; and atheists and humanists around the world, no community has been immune from these abuses.”

Shifting their remarks to the United States, both Blinken and Hussain expressed concern about increased antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred. Countries designated as “countries of particular concern” included: Myanmar (also known as Burma), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Hussain said Russia, which began its war against Ukraine more than 100 days ago, has “doubled down on its violations of religious freedom rather than reverse course” since the designation.

“President (Vladimir) Putin sought to justify the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine through the blatantly false pretext of deNazification,” he said. “The world clearly sees through this lie and is instead witnessing Russia’s brutal suppression, including suppression of religious leaders and the appalling destruction of religious sites.”

The State Department produced its first International Religious Freedom Report in 1998. At that time the U.S. State Department was the only government that had an office monitoring global religious freedoms. Currently, there are 35 governments and organizations with similar offices advocating for religious freedom.

“We’ll keep working alongside other governments, multilateral organizations, civil society to do so, including next month at the United Kingdom’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom,” Hussain said.

Source: Baptist Standard