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State Department issues 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, notes progress in Uzbekistan, deterioration in China

The State Department this week issued its annual report detailing the status of religious freedom in every country in the world. During remarks to the press, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted countries that have made progress in the past year:

The Gambia, an International Freedom Alliance member, has courageously brought a case before the International Court of Justice regarding crimes against the Rohingya. The United Arab Emirates, long an ally for religious freedom in the Middle East, has become the first country in the Middle East to permit the construction of a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[In Uzbekistan], we documented no police raids of unregistered religious group meetings [In Uzbekistan] during 2019, compared with 114 such raids in 2018, and 240 – 240 the year before that.  These are great strides, real progress, the efforts of our State Department team showing or bearing fruit.

He also pointed to countries that remain problematic or have deteriorated in protecting religious freedom since last year’s report:

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The Nicaraguan Government harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies. In Nigeria, ISIS and Boko Haram continue to attack Muslims and Christians alike.  ISIS beheaded 10 Christians in that country just this past December.

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And in China, state-sponsored repression against all religions continues to intensify.  The Chinese Communist Party is now ordering religious organizations to obey CCP leadership and infuse communist dogma into their teachings and practice of their faith.  The mass detentions of Uighurs in Xinjiang continues.  So does the repression of Tibetans and Buddhists and Falun Gong and Christians.

Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, followed Secretary Pompeo, and touted the department’s actions on religious freedom around the world. “The Trump administration,” he said, “has done and continues to do more than any other administration to protect and promote religious freedom for all faiths, groups, or for people of no faith at all.”

You can browse the report here.

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