The United States Department of State released Thursday its 2021 Report On International Religious Freedom, which identified various governments and societies that continue violations against the basic right of exercising one's religion.
The State Of The World's Religious Freedom
The 2021 Report On International Religious Freedom, Church Leaders reported, contains an evaluation of religious liberty conditions in 200 countries. Some of the countries identified in the report as violators of religious liberty are Afghanistan, Burma, China, Eritrea, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. While the countries of India, Nigeria, and Vietnam threaten the right of religious minorities. The countries of Iraq, Morocco, Taiwan, and Timor-Leste have eased out on their religious liberty violations.
Forbes said the 2021 report was delivered by U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken to Congress as part of its obligation in the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. While the International Christian Concern highlighted that the report now enlists Nigeria again as one of the world's worst persecutors. ICC explained that Nigeria was removed from the list last November, which caused backlash from human rights watchdogs.
State Secretary Blinken, who will be making a major policy speech on China this Thursday, said during the report's press briefing that governments in many parts of the world fail to respect the basic rights of their citizens. He pointed to the rising forms of hate that included sentiments against Muslims and Jews that must be combatted.
As per Christianity Today, Blinken highlighted China's atrocities against the Uyghur Muslims, Saudi Arabia's criminalization of any faith besides Islam, Pakistan's blasphemy laws that have led to the death of many, and Eritrea's demands from imprisoned religious minorities to denounce their faiths as a condition of release. Blinken also highlighted the Burmese government's atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims, Forbes said.
"Respect for religious freedom isn't only one of our deepest held values and a universal human right-it's also a vital foreign policy priority. We must do more to combat rising forms of hate," Blinken said.
Blinken added that the report, unfortunately, shows that there is much work to be done in the area of religious freedom. He underscored that the United States "will continue to stand up for religious freedom around the world" in the face of governments violating this basic right.
A Religious Freedom Report That Creates Progress
According to the Department of State, the report was designed to illuminate issues reported in each country. The report aims to shed light on the severity, scope, and nature of actions that impact religious freedom by illustrative examples.
Blinken said their department will continue to work with other governments, civil society, and multilateral organizations including the upcoming United Kingdom Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom next month.
The secretary explained that the core of the department's work is "to ensure that all people have the freedom to pursue the spiritual tradition that most adds meaning to their time on Earth." He explained that their work is about giving people the chance to freely express themselves to be their fullest selves, which is the progress the "report hopes to help create."
Reacting to the Department's 2021 report, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the United States turned "a blind eye to facts and are filled with ideological bias."
"They unscrupulously denigrate China's religious policies and constitute grave interference in China's internal affairs. China deplores and rejects them," Lijian remarked.
The Chinese spokesperson pointed to the Chinese Communist Party's basic policy of protecting and respecting religious liberty. He rebuked the genocide committed against the Uyghur minorities as mere allegations and stressed that the United States repeatedly hypes the lies about it. He said it is meant to only smear China's reputation.