Religious freedom report criticizes Egypt and Obama

Published: Wednesday, April 27 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

"Within the ranks of both CPCs and Watch List countries, impunity has become a matter of escalating alarm," Leo said. "A number of countries are idly standing by in the face of violent attacks against religious minorities and even dissenting members of majority faiths, and this imperils religious freedom much the same way that direct state-sponsored repression does. This year's Annual Report spotlights the problem and advances concrete solutions that will improve religious freedom while weaving it more tightly into the fabric of national security and U.S. foreign policy."

Last year's report criticized President Obama for beginning to use the term "freedom of worship," a weaker term than the internationally recognized "freedom of religion." The current report praised Obama's return to using the broader term "freedom of religion," such as in his January press conference with President Hu Jintao of China.

The report also noted the confirmation of Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook as the State Department's Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the highest-ranking U.S. official on religious freedom. It lamented, however, that the relative placement of Cook in the State Department hierarchy shows a low level of importance given to the issue — particularly when it is compared with other Ambassadors-at-Large (for example Global Women's Issues, Counterterrorism and War Crime Issues) who have direct access to the Secretary. The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom has three intermediate officials between her and the Secretary.

Today's report is the 12th released by the commission since its creation in 1998 by the International Religious Freedom Act.

email: mdegroote@desnews.com

twitter: twitter.com/degroote

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