Coupled with the continued exportation of religious extremist material from Saudi Arabia across the Middle East and into parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe, cultures of impunity have strengthened the hand of terrorist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ramping up killings and other abuses.
Whether Ahmadis, Baha'is, Christians, or others, religious minority individuals and their communities are – to a chilling extent – in trouble. Across much of the Middle East, Christian communities that have been a presence for nearly 20 centuries have experienced severe declines in population, aggravating their at-risk status in the region.
To be sure, religious freedom abuses harm members of religious majorities and minorities alike. But make no mistake: across much of the world, persons associated with religious minority communities often are harmed the most. Even when violations do not include or encourage violence, intricate webs of discriminatory rules, regulations, and edicts can impose tremendous burdens on these communities and their adherents, making it difficult for them to function and grow from one generation to the next, potentially threatening their existence. For example, while an electoral democracy, Turkey fails to legally recognize religious minority communities, such as the Alevis, the Greek, Armenian, and Syriac Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches, and the Jewish community. Furthermore, Turkish officials meddle in these communities' internal government and education and limit their worship rights.
In the end, the right to freedom of religion or belief should extend to every individual in every community and country. Since its inception, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has been committed to this fundamental principle and universal standard. USCIRF will continue to report on countries where this freedom is lacking and make positive recommendations for reform.
Religious freedom abuses must never go unchallenged. This is not merely USCIRF's opinion, or a reflection of our own heritage as a free people. It is a basic tenet of humanity, a moral, ethical and legal duty that the United States ought to honor with action.
[ Full Report in PDF version ]