Tuesday, May 21, 2013

State Department's 2012 International Religious Freedom Report Released; New Envoy To Monitor Anti-Semitism Announced

Yesterday, after comments by Secretary of Statse John Kerry, Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, released the U.S. State Department's 2012 International Religious Freedom Report. The Report assesses the situation county-by-country around the world. The Report's Executive Summary outlines "some common themes regarding the status of religious freedom around the world":
Laws and policies that impede the freedom of individuals to choose a faith, practice a faith, change their religion, tell others about their religious beliefs and practices, or reject religion altogether remain pervasive.....
The use of blasphemy and apostasy laws continued to be a significant problem, as was the continued proliferation of such laws around the world. Such laws often violate freedoms of religion and expression and often are applied in a discriminatory manner....
This report also documents a continued global increase in anti-Semitism. Holocaust denial and glorification remained troubling themes, and opposition to Israeli policy at times was used to promote or justify blatant anti-Semitism....
In addition to anti-Semitism, intolerance by members of society towards those of other faiths besides Judaism was a growing problem, and all too often evolved into violence. While Christians were a leading target of societal discrimination, abuse, and violence in some parts of the world, members of other religions, particularly Muslims, suffered as well. Societal groups targeted members of minority branches of Islam and smaller faith groups, often those considered by the majority to be heretical or “foreign.”...
In many parts of the world... [g]overnments exacerbated religious tensions... fostering a climate of impunity, and failing to ensure the rule of law. In several instances of communal attacks on members of religious minorities and their property, police reportedly arrested the victims of such attacks....
In connection with release of the Report, Secretary of State Kerry also announced that Ira Forman will serve as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

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