The US government has committed to addressing religious freedom as it publishes its annual report outlining the situation of religious freedom and persecution across the world. In its International Religious Freedom Report (IRF), the US State Department said countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and China were among the nations suffering continued abuses, with four out of five people facing high or severe restrictions on their faith. “Religious freedom is a human right; in fact, it goes to the heart of what it means to be human,” said the Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a press conference. “Religious freedom, like every human right is universal. All people, everywhere, are entitled to it no matter where they live, what they believe, or what they don’t believe.”
The situations in North Korea, Myanmar, Iran and India were also highlighted as well as that of Saudi Arabia, the only country without a Christian church although it has more than one million Christians living there. Concerns about religious freedom in Turkey were also addressed as it has been reported the government in the country has been issuing long-standing entry bans to residents affiliated with Protestant churches. The report also included some victories for religious freedom citing the elimination of apostasy laws in Sudan and the release of prisoners of conscience in Uzbekistan. Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy at International Christian Concern, celebrated the release of the report from the State Department.
“We welcome the release of the State Department’s 2020 IRF Report in emphasizing the United States’ commitment to promoting religious freedom around the world. Persecution persists in so many countries today and more work needs to be done to push back against forces that continue to restrict the foundational right of freedom of religion.” Also reacting to the report, Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International said: “Across the world, we see both authoritarian regimes and militant groups severely restricting the practice of faith in private and public, as well as committing atrocities against religious minorities, including even genocide. We urge governments to take all necessary measures to ensure that religious freedom is fully protected for everyone.”
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