Religious Freedom: U.S. State Department lists Algeria among world’s worst violators

Religious Freedom: U.S. State Department lists Algeria among world’s worst violators

Algeria has been named by the U.S. State Department among the world worst violators of religious freedom. It is the only country in North Africa included in the U.S. black-list.

“I have designated Algeria, Azerbaijan, the Central African Republic, Comoros and Vietnam as Special Watch List countries for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a press release issued lately.

Advancing the freedom of religion or belief has been a core objective of U.S. foreign policy ever since Congress passed and enacted the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, said Mr.Blinken.

He called on governments of countries included in the “Special Watch List” and those designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” as well as non-state actors committing severe violations of religious freedom to end their abuses and respect rights of religious minority communities and their places of worship.

In its latest report, the U.S. States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said religious freedom conditions in Algeria have deteriorated in recent years, affirming that the authorities frequently restrict religious expression and practice.

In recent years, Algerian government has prosecuted individuals for “offenses” related to their religious identity or the practice of their beliefs. The authorities continue to prevent religious minorities from establishing houses of worship and forcibly closed dozens of Protestant churches.

The Algerian government has not honored its 2014 commitment to reopen synagogues that had been converted to mosques or churches, said the USCIRF, noting that Baha’i activities have been banned by law in Algeria since 1969.

The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government body set up by the Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious violations committed abroad.


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