No compromise

"No compromise" Continued...

Issue: "Global shame," June 15, 2002

Iran "engages in or tolerates systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom." These include prolonged detention and executions of religious minorities, principally followers of the Baha'i faith.

Iraq conducts "a brutal campaign of murder, summary execution, arbitrary arrest, and protracted detention against the religious leaders and followers of the majority Shi'a Muslim population." Saddam Hussein's regime also works to eliminate minority Christians, both Assyrian and Chaldean groups.

In North Korea "religious freedom is nonexistent." The commission asked Congress to form a caucus addressing human-rights conditions in North Korea.

Pakistan continues to receive bad marks for a blasphemy law that every year puts about 60 Christians in jail. Earlier this year President Pervez Musharraf's government did announce plans to abolish a separate-electorate system for religious minorities, but it has not yet followed through. The government has taken action against extremist Islamic schools, emptying some of weapons, and will receive $8 million from the United States for basic education programs in return.

In one notable case the Bush administration has failed to act on recommendations of the commission: Saudi Arabia. "The government of Saudi Arabia denies religious freedom and vigorously enforces its prohibition against all forms of public religious expression" other than those based on its Wahabi fundamentalism. In April Saudi officials released the last two of 14 Christians held for nearly a year for participating in expatriate house churches who met in private worship. Those arrested were citizens of India, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. Yet Mr. Powell for a second year refused to officially cite Saudi Arabia for the violations, as recommended.

A surprise addition is Belgium, which earned poor marks from commissioners for "a growing atmosphere of intolerance with respect to new religious movements and other religious minorities." In February police in Brussels arrested four American Assemblies of God missionaries who were volunteering at the International Christian Academy and deported them for failing to obtain work permits.

France earned a slap, too, for enacting an "anti-cult law" and for recent anti-Semitic attacks.


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