USA vows to defend freedom of religion for all, in every country
The United States has vowed to continue defending freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country, to continue advancing religious freedom around the world, and to address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe.
“The United States will not waver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country. In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” said the Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in a statement.
“This Administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right,” he added in the statement issued Wednesday.
In his statement, the Secretary of State designated, under the International Religious Freedom Act, a number of countries, including Iran, as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
The Secretary of State also placed some other countries, including Algeria, on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”
Placing Algeria on the Special Watch List has been recommended by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which blamed the North African country for “engaging and tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.”
In recent years, Algerian authorities have shown more hostility towards religious minorities, forcibly closing dozens of Protestant churches and prosecuting Ahmadiyya Muslims for gathering without authorization for the purposes of worship, USCIRF had said in a press release, adding that Algerian courts are also increasingly enforcing Algeria’s blasphemy and anti-proselytization laws, targeting Christians, Muslims, and free thinkers.
In his Wednesday Statement, the Secretary of State said he is also “designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.”
“The challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo, Blinken pointed out calling for the international community’s urgent attention to this issue.
“We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices, and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses. The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe.”