What’s Up With Religious Freedom Worldwide?
State Department: Russian authorities violate religious freedom
This is stated in the annual report on religious freedom in the world.
Russia, North Korea, Iran, Myanmar and China are included in the list of countries in which, according to the Commission on Religious Freedom in the World, the authorities violate the rights of citizens to religion. This is stated in the report of the US Department of State on religious freedom in 2018, which was published on the website of the department on Friday..
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sam Brownback, US Special Ambassador for Religious Freedom to the World, spoke to reporters about the main findings of the annual report.
The head of the State Department includes a state in the list of “countries of greatest concern” if the authorities violate the freedom of religion of citizens, which is guaranteed by the law on religious freedom in the world, passed in 1998. This is exactly what happened in the case of Russia, which was included in the list on November 28 last year due to the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses..
Now there are 15 countries on this list. In addition to Russia, the countries with the greatest restrictions on religious freedom include North Korea, China, Iran, Eritrea, CAR, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Vietnam..
Despite the fact that the Russian constitution guarantees all residents of the country full freedom of religion, in fact, the authorities can prohibit the work of religious organizations if they suspect that believers are “extremist” in their actions. Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Most Persecuted in Russia.
In 2017, the Russian Supreme Court ruled illegal the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, recognizing this church as an “extremist organization.” To date, at least 47 Jehovah’s Witnesses are under arrest, criminal cases have been opened against 72 people. The houses of the followers of the church were repeatedly searched, “extremist” books and magazines were confiscated, and interrogations were carried out for many hours..
Muslims were also persecuted by the Russian authorities in 2018. The followers of the Islamic preacher Said Nursi were subjected to the greatest persecution. Last year, four of his followers were convicted of what authorities believed to be members of the Islamic political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami. In Russia, this organization is recognized as a terrorist group. Seven more followers of Nursi, who are suspected of belonging to terrorists, are now in custody..
According to the human rights organization Memorial, 177 political prisoners have been convicted or imprisoned in Russia for religious reasons, most of them are Muslims..
Unlike Russia, Uzbekistan last year, on the contrary, was excluded from the list of countries of greatest concern in matters of religious freedom, said Mike Pompeo. According to him, last year the Uzbek authorities began to take a number of steps aimed at ensuring freedom of religion. 1,500 people were released from places of detention, who were convicted for their religious affiliation, and another 16,000 residents of the country were excluded from the “black lists” and now they can freely leave Uzbekistan, Pompeo said..
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