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.