U.S. sees “mixed picture” on world religious freedom

October 26, 2009


(Photo: CHristians pray during an anti-North Korea and pro-U.S. protest in Seoul, 3 Oct 2007/Han Jae-Ho)

The United States sees a mixed picture on world religious freedom, with progress in interfaith dialogue weighed against government repression and sectarian strife in many countries.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday unveiled the latest State Department report on global religious freedom, which particularly criticized Iran and North Korea among other countries for harsh limits on religious expression.

“It is our hope that the … report will encourage existing religious freedom movements around the world,” Clinton said, adding that all people should have the right to believe or not as they see fit.

The report tagged North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, China, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan among the worst offenders, placing them on a watch list put out earlier this year.

Michael Posner, the State Department’s top official for democracy and human rights, said President Barack Obama’s call this year for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims did not mean sidelining religious liberty. “Religious freedom is a fundamental right, a social good, a source of stability, and a key to international security,” Posner said in the introduction to the report.

Posner praised interfaith dialogue efforts promoted by Jordan, Spain and other countries. But religious repression and discrimination remained huge problems worldwide.

Clinton said she opposed efforts promoted by some Islamic countries to establish a global benchmark for what constitutes “defamation of a religion,” saying it could be an unacceptable intrusion on free speech rights. “The protection of speech about religion is particularly important since persons of different faith will inevitably hold divergent views on religious questions,” she said.

Read our news story here.

Here is our Factbox summarising the main findings.

For the full International Religious Freedom Report, with links to each country section, click here.

For the full text of Clinton’s remarks, click here.

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What about discrimination by Theists against Atheists?One would think that ‘freedom of religion’ would also involve ‘freedom from religion’.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

What about the deeds of Christians wiping out natives under might of winchester rifle and converting others under fear to christianity? Don’t we know how Monolithic Religion, Christianity has spread? Do we need lesson from preacher who regularly comes out of brothel? US first needs to alter bible to say that all paths to god are fine and then come out with a Mosque for Jesus Christ and Church for Allah before preaching world about feces it is throwing to world. Before reporting religious freedom of other countries, it should look inside it’s own skirt and pant where the greatest cesspool of blood of religious genocide lies. Christians of US have done nothing except carrying out genocide and massacre of natives where ever it went, be it Vietnam, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Combodia. US Christians should worry about their own graveyards be it Obama or Hillary Clinton. If I will open up the book of Christians of Europe and US, then they should collectively hang themselves for the deeds they have done or drop atom bomb on their own heads.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

Who US to talk about religious freedom? Now, a Christian nation which wiped out natives under might of Winchester rifle and is engaged in wiping out remaining under the flagship of UN, Christian Agency, which takes order from Rome?Shall I open up the entire history of Christians who with money in pocket are preaching peace?US is a preacher who is most frequent visitor to of brothel. What did US Christians do when the went to Vietnam, Japan etc?US is made on cesspool of flesh and blood of genocide of natives. European Christians are responsible of genocide all people with non Christian faith in world.Hillary and Obama should first pay for their sins and then come to world with their Christian Sin Washing Detergent PowderHillary should first alter bible to say all paths to god are fine and then do some deeds like constructing a Mosque for Jesus and Church for Allah and then chirp.

Posted by Preacher | Report as abusive

US is a preacher who regularly goes to brothel. These things do not sound good from sinners with SIN WASHING DETERGENT POWDER

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

The move against Christianity hes begun in the US, heavily with the ACLU. The ACLU pours billions of dollars into fighting Christianity in this country Freedom , that is a joke, my wife is a teacher, and is warned weekly by administration, not to promote any christian views.The Islamic movement is even bigger in this country, the ACLU does not spend a dime stopping the teaching on bud-ism, Hinduism, or Islam, just anything that involves Jesus.WSOPNE.org

Posted by Dom from wsopne.org | Report as abusive

The serious Reuters readers should explore the currently live weblink to know firsthand the vitriolic hate speech by the US religious zealots against other religions in the hundreds of COMMENTS posted in an popular US weekly. This is a form of religious fundamentalism albeit without using guns. The merciless attack unleashed on Hinduism (which is not in any way proselytizing faith) by dedicated christian bigots fabricating fiction wisely misquoting vedas and upanishads. Welcome to newage of american religious tolerance.Propaganda against other religions by a web of white lies is the strongest element of proselytism. Must read(comments section)-http://www.newsweek.com/id/2121 55Their effort will be neutralized by the (previously) christian atheists like Christopher Hitchins and Richard Dawkins; youtube search them to see the counter attacks. Hindus and buddists are the worst victims of islamists and crusaders of 21st century as they were in 7th century.

Posted by Avatar | Report as abusive

In a recent article by Professor Kavakci of George Washington University, it was concluded that the best place for Muslims to live is America. Indeed, other nations could learn a great deal from America’s stance on religious freedom. Muslim countries in general could learn a lot from their own faith – namely, that there is no compulsion in religion.Human rights violations sadly continue in Pakistan due to religious intolerance as highlighted in theInternational Religious Freedom Report here: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2009/ 127370.htmThe Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes in the motto, “Love for All, Hatred for None.” Despite facing bitter persecution in countries like Pakistan, we are peaceful and law-abiding citizens.As Secretary Clinton points out, religious freedom is not just an American value – but a universal one. Hopefully, countries like Pakistan will wake up and realize this.Dania AhmedBrooklyn, NY

Posted by Dania Ahmed | Report as abusive