Welcome back. Religious liberty analysts recently listed North Korea as one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to protecting freedom of belief. Dwayne Leslie breaks down this annual ranking and explains its importance for Adventist religious liberty advocates.
A United States agency recently added two new countries—Turkey and Tajikistan—to its list of the world’s top religious freedom violators.
This list is part of an annual report issued by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (commonly known as USCIRF), which makes recommendations to the US State department about countries that should be designated as “countries of particular concern.” If the State Department does, in fact, adopt this label for a particular country, it then opens up the possibility of economic sanctions.
This year, USCIRF named 16 nations—including countries such as Eritrea, Iran, and North Korea—as the world’s worst offenders when it comes to protecting religious freedom.
The report also tracked different types of religious persecution. For instance, there’s repression at the hands of a government, such as what’s happening in Burma, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Or there’s persecution that's carried out by religious extremists—like the current violence against religious minorities in places such as Nigeria and Iraq.
The USCIRF report also points to countries such as Pakistan and Egypt, where there's elements of both types of persecution--religious repression by the authorities and violence carried out by extremists.
It remains to be seen just how far the State Department will implement these recommendations, but at the very least, this report is an important means of keeping religious persecution in the public eye and on the public agenda.