November 19, 2010.
The U.S. State Department has released its annual survey of religious freedom from around the world. The International Religious Freedom Report lists eight countries previously identified as a “special concern,” Myanmar, China, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Eritrea were ranked the worst offenders over their limits on religious freedom.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “religious freedom is a human right and essential to any peaceful, thriving society.”
The report also noted “harsh measures” in France and Switzerland where new laws forbid Muslim face veils and new mosque minarets.
U.S. officials also voiced concern over rising religious tension in Europe and urged European governments to protect the rights of Muslims and other religious minorities.
The report is compiled from sources including journalists, academics, religious groups, as well as non-governmental agencies.
There were also marked improvements for some countries such as Indonesia where the government has worked to ease religious tensions.