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China angered as US designates it among ten worst religious freedom abusers

(TibetanReview.net, Nov19’21) – China has again figured as one of the worst abusers of religious freedom in the world, joined by nine others, in the United States’s latest annual ‘Religious Freedom Designations’ announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Nov 18. China condemned the designation as interference in the internal affairs of other nations.

“In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs. This administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right,” indiatoday.in Nov 18 quoted Blinken as saying.

Blinken has designated China as a country of “Particular Concern” for violations of religious freedom along with Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. They are accused of “having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom,” according to the State Department statement.

Four other countries namely Algeria, Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua have been placed on a special watch list. They are accused of having “engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom.”

The United States has also designated the Taliban, along with al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, as “entities of particular concern”.

Blinken has said: “The challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention.”

He has spoken of the United States government’s continued commitment to work “with governments, civil society organizations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe.”

China firmly opposes groundless accusations as it smears the country’s religious freedom, the PTI news agency Nov 18 cited Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian as telling the media in Beijing.

When asked about the US charge, Zhao has said his government protected citizens’ religious freedom in accordance with the law.

China has nearly 200 million religious believers, over 3.80 lakh clerical personnel, 5500 religious groups and 1.40 lakh places of worship for religious activities, he has maintained.

According to Zhao, “the spread of Islamophobia and other extremist ideologies in the US has caused a great deal of tragedy. Instead of doing some soul searching, the US frequently used religious issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.”

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