Barnabas Fund - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
No Pakistan or Egypt in US State Dept li...

Email:

No Pakistan or Egypt in US State Dept list of religious freedom violators

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

No Pakistan or Egypt in US State Dept list of religious freedom violators

Country/Region: United States

The US State Department has been criticised for “glaring omissions” in its latest list of countries designated as severe violators of religious freedom.

US_State_Department_Building_4X3.jpg
The Harry S. Truman Building, headquarters of the US State Dept
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

In its Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, the State Department re-designated eight “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) – Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan – the same as listed last year.

The term is applied to any country in which the government has "engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom". The US International Religious Freedom Act (1998) requires the US government to take specific actions, including economic sanctions and diplomatic protests, against CPCs.

CPC recommendations are made by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan body. It raised concerns that no new countries were added this year.

“Glaring omissions”

Chairman Leonard Leo said the current list “continues glaring omissions” and called for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to consider the six additional countries recommended for designation. These were Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam

Pakistan was omitted despite recognition in the State Department’s report that the country’s laws restrict religious freedom and that the government enforced these restrictions, and also that investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of extremist attacks on minorities are rare.

The Pakistani government’s measures to improve religious freedom were noted, including the creation of a Ministry of National Harmony, which was set up after the assassination of two politicians, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who opposed the “blasphemy laws”.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used against Christians and other non-Muslim minorities; Christian mother Aasia Bibi is currently on death row in Pakistan, having been falsely accused of defiling the name of Muhammad.

The USCIRF has recommended Egypt as a CPC for the first time in light of increasing attacks on Christians since the revolution and failure of the government to take action. Mr Leo said:

Instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Egyptian Christians are concerned that religious freedom will deteriorate further if Islamist parties emerge victorious in the country’s forthcoming parliamentary elections.  

USCIRF threatened

The latest State Department report comes as the future of the USCIRF, which was created 13 years ago to promote religious freedom overseas, is under threat. It has been criticised for what some see as a disproportionate focus on the persecution of Christians globally, while others feel that it causes confusion overseas as to whether or not it speaks for the White House, and has too little accountability.  

It needs to be re-authorised by the Senate, and whether or not this will happen remains unclear. If the USCIRF is retained, it will have to operate with a reduced budget and a reduction in the number of commissioners from nine to five.

Help us: Share this article

Email:

No Pakistan or Egypt in US State Dept list of religious freedom violators

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Heavenly Father, we pray for Kim Jung-Wook, a South Korean Christian who has been sentenced to hard labour for life in North Korea for “spying” and attempting to establish house churches in the country. We thank You that although prosecutors demanded the death penalty, this was commuted, but we pray that Jung-Wook will be sustained by You in his imprisonment and cruel treatment and will soon be released. We pray too for the dozens of North Koreans who were detained after Jung-Wook’s arrest in October on suspicion of helping him, and for the families of any who have already been executed. We pray for political change and religious freedom in North Korea, that it may be made legal to be a Christian and to take part in Christian activity. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 21 hours ago

    • Two Christian families in Uzbekistan who meet in a private home to read the Bible and pray together have been repeatedly fined and had property confiscated. Alisher Abdullayev and Veniamin Nemirov were originally fined in 2012 for unregistered religious activity and teaching religion “illegally”. They refused on principle to pay, claiming that they had not violated any laws. But earlier this year bailiffs went to their homes and confiscated a car, a mobile phone and household items. The men and their wives were then fined again, ten times the minimum monthly wage. Officers have also raided one of their meetings, filming and harassing those present and seizing religious literature. Pray that the authorities will stop targeting the families and that they will be left alone to study and pray in peace. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Leaders imprisoned for up to 60 days and members for up to 45 days; fines, corrective labour or community service: these are the penalties for taking part in religious gatherings in Kazakhstan held without state permission, according to a new criminal code. Those who finance unregistered religious activity will be liable to the same punishments as leaders. In addition, a new Code of Administrative Offences lays down a wide range of penalties for exercising the right to religious freedom. Both codes have been condemned by 119 Kazakh and international human rights groups and individuals. They further tighten controls on religious practice in a context where it is already much restricted. Pray for wisdom and courage for Christians in Kazakhstan as they seek to maintain their worship and witness. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks that 55 Christians, almost all church leaders and converts from Islam, received Bible training at a three-day seminar in Kyrgyzstan that was supported by Barnabas Fund. The participants have virtually no access to Biblical training, and so the studies were a great boost to their faith and ministry. Meeting fellow church leaders, who are all dealing with similar issues, such as isolation and persecution from Muslim relatives and local Muslim communities, was also very encouraging to them and gave them the opportunity to build up a Christian support network. Pray that the Lord will continue to speak to them through the Bible passages they studied at the seminar, and that He will bless their ministries. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Christians and other minorities in Burma (Myanmar) are extremely concerned about a proposed religious conversion bill that will require people to seek permission from the authorities before changing religion. It is part of a package of four bills designed to “protect race and religion” in the Buddhist-majority country. The government says it is intended to prevent forced conversions. The draft says that forcing someone to convert would be punishable by a year in prison, while insulting another religion would be punishable by between one and two years in prison. Similar laws in force in several Indian states are used to threaten legitimate evangelism by Christians and as a pretext by Hindu militants to attack Christians, whom they falsely accuse of forcibly converting people. Pray this bill will not become law in Burma. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Fund 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Fund & Barnabas Aid are registered trade marks