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Eight Nations Singled Out for Religious Freedom Violations

Washington – Just before the end of the Bush administration last January, the U.S. State Department redesignated eight nations as “countries of particular concern” because of their religious freedom violations.
The independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom learned of the designations, which were authorized Jan. 16 under then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and announced them on Friday (March 27). The panel had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February to release the department’s latest list of designated countries.
The State Department responded by sending the commission Rice’s designations of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern.” Those same countries were named in 2006.
“The Commission is disappointed that Secretary Rice refused to designate any new countries and that waivers were granted for both Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia,” said Felice Gaer, chair of the religious freedom commission.
“Religious freedom conditions in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia are appalling and a specific U.S. government response is required.”
The commissioners considered the waivers given to Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia “a pass,” despite conditions in those countries.
The State Department also declined the panel’s recommendation to add Iraq, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam as other countries with significant religious freedom violations.
“The designation of `Countries of Particular Concern’ is important in promoting religious freedom,” wrote Acting Assistant Secretary Karen B. Stewart, in the response letter to Gaer. “The Department values and takes into consideration the Commission’s recommendations when making recommendations to the secretary regarding designations.”
Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • nnmns

    We should also make a list of countries which deny women educations, countries which deny freedom of speech (a lot more vital right than the more limited religious freedom) and countries which deny government participation based on religion, just for starters. And we shouldn’t pull our punches just because we get significant oil from a country or because we need it for a war we’re in.
    How ’bout them apples?

  • sinsonte

    Saudi Arabia in a one-religion state that tolerates no other forms of religious expression and is intolerant to the rights of women. Given that, why is not The Vatican on the list?

  • Your Name

    Odd that the United States of America isn’t in that list, considering how people who believe something other than what right-wing conservative Christians happen to believe aren’t allowed their freedom of religin.

  • jestrfyl

    Freedonia, Grand Fenwick, and Narnia are also on the list of suspicious countries restricting religious freedom. Theological Hooligans and religious ruffians, all of ’em!

  • Mordred08

    Your Name: “Odd that the United States of America isn’t in that list, considering how people who believe something other than what right-wing conservative Christians happen to believe aren’t allowed their freedom of religin.”
    But if you ever point that out, you’re a socialist humanist fascist communist secularist who wants to abolish Christianity and institute human-plant marriages.

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