Several Mideast Countries Lead in Religious Freedom Violations

Several countries in the Middle East are ranked as religious freedom violators, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

BY: Corine Gatti

 

Several countries in the Middle East are ranked as religious freedom violators, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Tier I are “countries of particular concern (CPC)” where the government “tolerates severe violations of religious freedoms that are ongoing” as designated by the State Department and USCIRF.

 Egyptians protest against religious freedom violations

Countries like Burma, China, Iran, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan were listed in the Tier I CPC countries in the 209-page report. USCIRF also listed Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. These countries don’t meet the criteria of the CPC, but are“countries where the violations engaged in or [were] tolerated by the government… and are characterized by at least one of the elements of the systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”

Tier 2 countries were listed as Burma, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, and Russia where USCIRF is keeping a close watch on.

Anti-Semitism is a growing challenge in Egypt. State-controlled media and semi-official media, circulated literature claiming the Holocaust as fiction, and comparing Israeli leadership and Zionism as Hitler, was promoted with no resistance from authorities.

“The government’s draft Citizens’ Rights Charter, released in November 2013, includes protections for the recognized minorities but excludes Baha’is from any legal protections,” the report stated.

The Baha’i community is the largest religious minority in Iran and has been subjected to severe human rights and religious freedom violations.

Iran was condemned in the report for its continual deterioration of human rights and religious freedom against religious minorities like Christian converts, and followers of Baha’i, who have been tortured and imprisoned. Iran has been on the CPC’s list since 1999.

Christians have been targeted with church raids, abuse, and imprisonment. President Obama called President Hassan Rouhani in September 2013 for the release of American-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been jailed since 2012 because of his Christian beliefs, as well as 39 other Christians remain detained.

“Since his June 2013 election, President Hassan Rouhani has not delivered on his campaign promises of strengthening civil liberties for religious minorities.”



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