The Trump administration on Monday added China, Nigeria and Iran to the list of countries pledging to violate or allow violations of religious freedom within their borders – as part of US efforts to end religious persecution in the world.
The State Department announced that the three countries would be designated as> under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. Besides Burma, Eritrea, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, these countries are accused of engaging in or tolerating “systematic, continuous and flagrant violations of religious freedom. “.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking to Guy Benson of Fox News, said that President Trump “expects every country to respect the fundamental right that every human being has by nature of his or her dignity as a human being to practice his faith. , or if they choose not to practice one, so be it, but it will not be imposed by any government.
“And so, we do our best with multiple tools to ensure maximum religious freedom for every individual in the world,” he said.
The administration has taken a strong stance on China in particular, targeting its persecution in Hong Kong and against religious minorities in the Xinjiang region. Pompeo pointed to the destruction of churches by China and the denial of religious rights.
“But there are a number of countries in the world that fall into this category, and in each case the United States is doing its best to improve the ability for individuals to observe their own faith,” he said. -he declares.
Over the summer, the United States sanctioned several Chinese officials for their treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Separately, the agency said it placed four countries, including Cuba and Russia, on a separate “watch list” for governments engaging or tolerating “serious violations of religious freedom.”
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In addition, he has placed a number of radical and terrorist groups, including ISIS-Grand Sahara, Al-Qaeda and Al Shabaab as “entities of particular concern” under the 2016 International Religious Freedom Act Frank R. Wolf .