Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

December 2005
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Cover Story

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 com

World Islamic Banking Conference in Bahrain

The 12th annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) will take place on December 10, 11 and 12, 2005 at the Gulf International Convention Centre in Bahrain. The Conference will take as its theme: “Unlocking Market Opportunities: Consolidation, Innovation and Growth.” The world’s largest independent platform for promoting insight, networking and brand visibility in the Islamic banking and finance sector will feature a combination of big picture plenary sessions and highly focused break-out summits. It will also cover the WIBC Mckinsey Competitiveness Report, which is the world’s first research-led initiative designed to not only identify, but also to raise the bar of financial performance and strategic excellence in Islamic Banking and Finance industry. The Conference will be convened under the official patronage of Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain.