US concerned over religious freedom in RussiaMarch 21st, 2012 - 5:36 am ICT by IANS
Moscow, March 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A US government commission on religious freedom has included Russia in a list of countries that require “close monitoring”.
The annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has included Russia due to concerns about extremism, treatment of non-traditional religions and hate crimes.
“In the past year (2011), the (Russian) government increased its use of anti-extremism legislation against religious groups and individuals not known to use or advocate violence.”
“National and local government officials regularly apply other laws to harass Muslims and religious groups they view as non-traditional. Russian officials continue to deem certain religious and other groups alien to Russian culture and society, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance,” it said.
The report also recommended that the US State Department include 16 countries on its list of the worst violators of religious rights.
These include Tajikistan, Turkey, Vietnam, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Eritrea.
Violations of religious freedom in these countries were “systematic and egregious”, the report said.
The State Department annually compiles its own list of the worst offenders, which are usually fewer than those recommended by the USCIRF. The countries included in the State Department list can face sanctions.
The independent USCIRF was created in 1998. It prepares an annual report containing its recommendations for the US administration.
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