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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/19/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

State department lists worst 'authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens' ability to practice their religion'

Most distressing is the fact that religious persecution continues in the world today. Somewhere, someone has a deeply held belief that is perceived as a threat to others. The State Department has listed eight separate nations as the worst places to practice religion. The nations listed are, in the words of the department, "authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens' ability to practice their religion."

The oil-rich monarchy of Saudi Arabia doesn't even pretend to respect religious rights for any faith other than Islam.

The oil-rich monarchy of Saudi Arabia doesn't even pretend to respect religious rights for any faith other than Islam.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

5/19/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: State Department, religious intolerance, persecution

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While the report by the department is objective, these country's designations will have consequences. Sudan's recent sentencing of a pregnant woman for leaving Islam to marry a Christian man drew international attention. Authorities there intend to carry out her hanging and floggings - after she has her baby. As a result, Sudan will become ineligible for some forms of foreign aid.

In addition to Sudan, other nations on the list - cited as being "countries of particular concern," is Burma. The government there has put a stranglehold on every religion except Theravada Buddhism, says the State Department.

Starvation doesn't take a vacation --

Non-Buddhists have been encouraged to convert, and Muslims in the state of Rakhine, particularly Rohingya Muslims, are subject to discrimination and lethal violence, according to the State Department.

The Asian powerhouse of China? "The government harassed, detained, arrested, or sentenced to prison a number of religious adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice," the State Department says.

Uyghur Muslims, there were recently sentenced to 10 years in jail for "selling illegal religious material," and Catholic clergy were arrested for not belonging to the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association.

In one of Africa's poorest nations, Eritrea, only four religious groups are officially allowed to openly practice their faith in this African nation; the rest are subject to jailing or worse.

If you're not an Eritrean Orthodox Christian, a Sunni Muslim, a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical Lutheran, life could be tough for you there.

The Muslim-majority country of Iran has seen a downturn in religious tolerance. "There were increased reports that the government charged religious and ethnic minorities with moharebeh (enmity against God), 'anti-Islamic propaganda,' or vague national security crimes for their religious activities," the department's report says.

Let's not - or who can possibly forget North Korea? Members of underground churches there were arrested, beaten, tortured or killed because of their religious beliefs, the State Department says.

The oil-rich monarchy of Saudi Arabia doesn't even pretend to respect religious rights for any faith other than Islam. The public practice of any other religion is forbidden, according to the State Department, and Arabian authorities beheaded a man in 2012 for engaging in "sorcery."

Uzbekistan, on the other hand, has laws that respect religious rights.

But in practice, the Central Asian nation maintains strict control of its majority-Muslim population, according to the State Department.

"The government continued to imprison individuals based on charges of extremism; raid religious and social gatherings of unregistered and registered religious communities; confiscate and destroy religious literature, including holy books; and discourage minors from practicing their faith," the department said in its 2012 report.


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