Religious Freedom Still A Dream
International Religious Freedom Report 2005
The U.S. Department of State released the seventh Annual International Religious Freedom Report, which examines the status of religious freedom around the world. The annual report released on November 8, 2005, is mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and seeks to examine barriers to religious freedom in 197 countries and territories. The report also notes countries in which conditions have improved and outlines U.S. actions to promote international religious freedom.
The 2005 report re-designates Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Vietnam as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for severe violations of religious freedom. The same countries were listed as CPCs in the 2004 report.
The report reviews the countries’ commitments to religious freedom and examines barriers to the free practice of religion in several countries, including CPCs. According to the report, Georgia, India, Turkmenistan and United Arab Emirates have showed “significant improvement” in the protection and promotion of religious freedom through modification of legal and social barriers.Some countries cited in the report curtail religious freedom by controlling religious expression and practice. These countries “regard some or all religious groups as enemies of the state because of their religious beliefs or their independence from central authority.” Other countries named in the report allow the free practice of religion for established, majority religions, but curtail religious freedom of “minority or non-approved” religions. These governments are “hostile and oppressive” towards minority religions and implement policies that “demand adherents to recant their faith, cause religious group members to flee the country, or intimidate and harass certain religious groups. The full text of the 2005 report is available on the State Department website-www.usinfo.state.gov. com