Religious freedom in global decline
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 4/25/18, 12:00 pm
Religious freedom conditions around the world continued to decline in 2017, the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted in its annual report released Wednesday. The independent bipartisan body recommended the U.S. State Department maintain 10 countries previously designated Tier 1 Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—and include six additional countries on the list: the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam. CPCs are “governments that engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” The commission also recommended the State Department designate 12 countries as Tier 2 nations and three non-state actors—the Taliban, Islamic State (ISIS), and Somali-based al-Shabaab—as “entities of particular concern.” The report highlighted the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, also known as Myanmar, that led more than 650,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh in 2017. The report also said the “continued unjust detention of Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson since October 2016 has had a chilling effect on Christians” in Turkey, a Tier 2 country. USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark called on the Trump administration to build on its stated commitments to prioritize global religious freedom by sanctioning egregious violators and seeking the release of religious prisoners of conscience abroad.
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.