Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, September 17, 2007

Viet Nam commended in U.S. Religion Report, while Iraq is at fault

The State Department’s 2007 report on international religious freedom, which was introduced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on September 14, cites faults in Iraq, China and other countries, but improvements in Viet Nam and Saudi Arabia, Voice of America reported. The report, required by an act of Congress, this year covers 198 countries and territories.

In her remarks, Rice said that religious liberty is deeply rooted in American history and is integral to U.S. efforts to combat what she calls the ideology of hatred and religious intolerance that fuels global terrorism.

The state of religious freedom has deteriorated in Iraq, but according to U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom John Hanford, this is due to insurgency-related violence rather than any government policy: “The real problem we’re dealing with is that with the sectarian violence, not necessarily focused upon religious practice, that at the same time religious practice winds up being affected,” Hanford said.

China was taken to task for continuing to repress Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighar Muslims, and members of the Falon Gong spiritual group.

Viet Nam, on the other hand, was commended for continuing to make progress in expanding religious freedom. The country was taken off the “Countries of Particular Concern” list last year for actions it has taken, including the official recognition of Protestant congregations.

Saudi Arabia has also bolstered religious freedom by allowing the private observance of non-sanctioned religions and curbing incitement against other faiths, the report says.

Nations deemed “Countries of Particular Concern” for egregious abuses are subject to U.S. sanctions. The revised list will not be issued until November in order to give countries facing the designation and possible sanctions a chance to make reforms.

For the full article, click here.

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