(Page 2 of 3)
In Sudan another long-running civil war primarily targeted Christians and animists. The 2005 peace agreement has improved religious freedom in the south, but elsewhere, warns the Commission, the regime “has pursued coercive policies of Arabization and Islamization resulting in genocide” and “severely restricts the religious freedom and other universal human rights of an ethnically and religiously diverse population.”
North Korea is a totalitarian states, crushing everyone underfoot. Saudi Arabia allows more personal autonomy in general, but demands total religious obedience.
Reports the Commission, “The government persists in banning all forms of public religious expression other than that of the government’s own interpretation of one school of Sunni Islam and interfering with private religious practice. The government also continues to be involved in financing activities throughout the world that support extreme religious intolerance, hatred, and, in some cases, violence toward non-Muslims and disfavored Muslims.”
The ever-tightening grip of Iran’s Islamist rulers has reduced religious as well as political liberty. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic rantings are well known. The situation is deteriorating sharply “for religious minorities and for Baha’is, Sufi Muslims, and Evangelical Christians in particular. All minority groups faced arrests, imprisonment, other forms of detention, and harassment,” reports the Commission.
“Sectarian and religiously motivated violence” bedevil Pakistan. Legislation, including against blasphemy, “frequently result in imprisonment on account of religion or belief and/or vigilante violence against the accused.”
China has become an economic behemoth and is counting on increased prestige as a result of the 2008 Olympics. Yet the communist regime runs scared in the face of growing religious faith.
Believers are arrested, jailed, and tortured. Reports the Commission: “Every religious community in China continues to be subject to serious restrictions, state control, and repression. The most severe religious freedom abuses are directed against Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, Roman Catholics, house church and unregistered Protestants, and spiritual groups such as the Falun Gong.”
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are two generally thuggish states that register religious groups, and then harass registered as well as unregistered believers. (Many of the victims are Muslims.)
Eritrea also punishes all believers. Explained the Commission, that country’s government systematically violates religious freedom through “a prolonged ban on public activities by all religious groups that are not officially recognized; arbitrary denials of recognition; closures of places of worship; disruption of private religious and social gatherings of members of unregistered groups; arbitrary arrests and detention without charge of their members; and the mistreatment or torture of religious detainees, sometimes resulting in death.”
Finally, the Commission points to Vietnam, upgraded last fall by the State Department. The Commission points to “continued arrests and detentions of individuals in part because of their religious activities and continued severe religious freedom restrictions targeting some ethnic minority Protestants and Buddhists, Vietnamese Mennonites, Hao Hoa Buddhists, and monks and nuns associated with the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam.” Similarly, the group International Christian Concern includes Vietnam in its “Hall of Shame,” explaining that Vietnam “remains one of the most difficult places to live as a Christian.”
AS IF THERE WEREN’T ENOUGH religious oppressors, the Commission also maintains a watch list. Eight nations reside there: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, and Nigeria. In all but Belarus and Cuba Islamic fundamentalism is the problem.
As noted earlier, Iraq’s government is unwilling to even try to protect religious minorities. In Afghanistan, says the Commission, “the failure or inability of the Afghan government to exercise authority effectively outside Kabul contributes to a progressively deteriorating situation for religious freedom.”
The Commission cited Bangladesh because of “increasing Islamist radicalism and violence and the threatening conditions for and discrimination against religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadis.” In Egypt “serious religious freedom violations affect Coptic Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Baha’is, as well as members of minority Muslim communities, all of whom are also subject to religiously-motivated attacks.”
In Indonesia the Commission points to “ongoing sectarian violence,” “forcible closures of places of worship belonging to religious minorities,” and “growing political power and influence of religious extremists, who harass and sometimes instigate violence against moderate Muslim leaders and members of religious minorities.” Nigeria continues to see “violent communal conflicts along religious lines, the expansion of sharia into the criminal codes of several northern states, and discrimination against minority communities of Christians and Muslims.”
Belarus and Cuba act as, respectively, authoritarian former Communist and continuing Communist states. In Cuba, reports the Commission, “Both registered and unregistered religious groups continued to experience varying degrees of official interference, harassment, and repression.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?