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Targeting the World’s Worst Religious Persecutors

January 12, 2020 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Christmas is typically a joyous time for Christians. But many believers were not able to celebrate their most important holiday this past year. Or any other. By numbers, Christianity is the most persecuted faith.

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For example, confronting a population with more Christians than Communist Party members, the Chinese government has launched a brutal and intensive campaign against all faiths, especially when operating outside of government-controlled bodies. In the Middle East persecution is state policy in such nations as Saudi Arabia and Iran and favored activity of outside forces in Iraq and Syria.

No faith is exempt. Judaism remains a perennial target of the most malevolent actors in many societies. Yazidis, Baha’is, and other non-traditional religions are particularly vulnerable to Islamist extremists. Being the “wrong” kind of Muslim can lead to great hardship, even death, in Islamic nations.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) makes an annual report on the status of religious liberty around the world. Persecution is surprisingly widespread. The situation is best in North and South America, though traditionally free countries, such as Canada, are moving in the wrong direction as socially conservative believers increasingly face exclusion and punishment. Africa, Asia, and the Middle East feature extensive religious cleansing and mass murder of people of faith.

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The State Department has named nine particularly egregious offenders as “Countries of Particular Concern.” The winners of the just concluded year’s contest for worst of the worst are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Although rhetorically clumsy, the label is highly substantive, reflecting severe and systematic persecution. State generally follows the commission’s recommendations, though typically offers Realpolitik leniency based on other geopolitical considerations. USCIRF’s latest assessment details the offenders’ many crimes.

Burma. One of the most tragic cases covered by the commission, Burma, also known as Myanmar, seemed headed toward a democratic future four years ago when the military relaxed its …read more

Source: OP-EDS