U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today stressed that religious freedom and tolerance builds stable and harmonious societies.
In her remarks at the Release of the 13th Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Ms. Clinton said the protection of religious freedom is a fundamental concern of the United States going back to the earliest days of its republic, and it remains so today.
“As we look around the world, in fact, we see many countries where governments deny their people the most fundamental human rights: the right to believe according to their own conscience – including the freedom to not believe or not follow the religion favored by their government; the right to practice their religion freely, without risking discrimination, arrest, or violence; and the right to educate their children in their own religious traditions; and the freedom to express their beliefs.” -Ms. Clinton
She reported that in Iran, authorities continue to repress Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, Bahais, Sunnis, Ahmadis, and others who do not share the government’s religious views. In China, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, “house church” Christians all suffer from government attempts to restrict their religious practice.
She highlighted that threats to the free exercise of conscience and religion do not always come directly from governments.
“In the Middle East and North Africa, the transitions to democracy have inspired the world, but they have also exposed ethnic and religious minorities to new dangers. People have been killed by their own neighbors because of their ethnicity or their faith.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton cited UN Human Rights Council Resolution 1618. It calls on all states to take concrete action against religious bigotry through tolerance, education, government outreach, service projects, and interfaith dialogue.
“As we release this report, we reaffirm the role that religious freedom and tolerance play in building stable and harmonious societies. Hatred and intolerance are destabilizing.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton highlighted that the United States Government will continue its efforts to support religious freedom. She said U.S. government is engaging with faith groups to address the issues that affect them.