US Department of State releases report on religious freedom across the world
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the U.S. Department of State recently published its 2021 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, a report that details the status of religious freedom in every country around the world.
This year’s report to U.S. Congress identified countries that made notable progress toward religious freedom, such as Morocco, Taiwan, and Iraq. Yet in countries like India, China, and Saudi Arabia, the situation continues to deteriorate.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We know that when the fundamental right of each person to practice their faith … is respected, people can make their fullest contributions to community successes [and] entire societies are better off.”
Rashad Hussain, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, reiterated the importance of the report to “give voice to countless individuals around the world who have been killed, beaten, threatened, harassed, or jailed for seeking to exercise their beliefs in accordance with the dictates of their conscience.”
One country of particular concern addressed in the report was Pakistan for its blasphemy and apostasy laws which target the speech of religious minorities. Secretary Blinken noted at least 16 individuals in Pakistan who were sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2021. The report also found that blasphemy accusations have led to mob violence from non-state actors, and religious minorities continue to face widespread harassment and discrimination because of their faith.
In Eritrea, the report found significant restrictions on the right to freely practice one’s faith. For example, the Eritrean government only recognizes four religious groups, and individuals caught practicing other religions have reportedly been arrested and subjected to government abuse.
The report also highlighted the genocides and crimes against humanity occurring in countries such as Burma and China. In Burma, Rohingya Muslims are routinely targeted by the Burmese military, and hundreds of thousands have been forcibly displaced because of violence. As a result of the coup in the country last year, Burmese Christians are also heavily persecuted by the harsh intolerance of the Burmese military.