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Ten out of 15 of the worst countries for religious intolerance are Muslim

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF, an arm of the U.S. government has named 15 nations as the "worst violators of religious freedom." An independent advisory body created by the International Religious Freedom Act. The commission monitors religious freedom abuses worldwide. In its 2013 report, the group identifies "governments that are the most egregious violators." Of the 15 nations listed, 10 are Muslim.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 15 countries listed are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. All of these nations severely restrict independent religious activity and harass individuals and groups for religious activity or beliefs.

These nations are classified as Tier 1. "Countries of particular concern" in the report.

In spite of its recent opening and political reforms, change in Burma has "yet to significantly improve the situation for freedom of religion and belief." Most violations in Burma occurred against minority Christian and Muslim adherents.

Egypt's transitional and elected governments have made progress toward religious freedom, but the commission duly noted the attacks that Coptic Christians that have been ongoing in the period after the Arab Spring that brought down the Mubarak regime. "In many cases, the government failed or was slow to protect religious minorities from violence."

The former Soviet states of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were included for pursuing state control over religion, targeting Muslims and minorities alike.

Iraq was cited for, among other things, tolerating "violent religiously motivated attacks" and Iran for "prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely on the religion of the accused."

Western ally Saudi Arabia also continues to suppress religious practices outside of the officially-sanctioned Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Saudi Arabia also continues to interfere with the faith of guest workers and prosecutes individuals for "apostasy, blasphemy and sorcery." Pakistan has a strict blasphemy law and failure to prosecute acts of religious violence, the report said.

Furthermore, the situation in the West African nation of Sudan has deteriorated since South Sudan gained its independence. Criminalization of apostasy, the imposition of the government's strict interpretation of Shari'ah on both Muslims and non-Muslims and attacks against Christians, were cited in the report for the decline.

Nigeria also made the list for "continuing religious violence between Muslims and Christians compounded by the government's toleration of the sectarian attacks"

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