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State Department: 74% of Global Population Does Not Have Religious Freedom

State Department: 74% of Global Population Does Not Have Religious Freedom

A new report from the U.S. State Department has found that religious freedom violations are rampant around the world, with nearly 74 percent of the entire global population living in countries that have “serious restrictions on religious freedom,” according to David Saperstein, the US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.

The report specifically called out Muslim countries that enforce anti-blasphemy laws and anti-conversion laws. From the report:

In many other Islamic societies, societal passions associated with blasphemy – deadly enough in and of themselves – are abetted by a legal code that harshly penalizes blasphemy and apostasy. Such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights. All residents of countries where laws or social norms encourage the death penalty for blasphemy are vulnerable to attacks such as the one on Farkhunda [Malikzada, a woman killed after being accused of burning a Quran].

This is particularly true for those who have less power and are more vulnerable in those societies, like women, religious minorities, and the poor. False accusations, often lodged in pursuit of personal vendettas or for the personal gain of the accuser, are not uncommon. Mob violence as a result of such accusations is disturbingly common. In addition to the danger of mob violence engendered by blasphemy accusations, courts in many countries continued to hand down harsh sentences for blasphemy and apostasy, which were used to severely curtail the religious freedom of their residents.

At an event last week when the report was released, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken told reporters that though “bigotry and intolerance” are every where in the world,” state-sponsored religious persecution is unacceptable: “Every country has an obligation to respect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”

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