Washington: US Secretary of State Tony Blinken said there has been rising attacks on people and places of worship in India, asserting that America will continue to stand up for religious freedom around the world.
He also said people from the minority communities and women were being targeted in other Asian countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and China.
The United States will continue to stand up for religious freedom around the world. We’ll keep working alongside other governments, multilateral organisations, civil society to do so, including next month at the United Kingdom’s ministerial to advance religious freedom, Blinken told media persons at the release of the annual International Religious Freedom report on Thursday.
At its core, our work is about ensuring that all people have the freedom to pursue the spiritual tradition that most has meaning to their time on earth, he said, noting that the report documents how religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities are under threat in communities around the world.
For example, in India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we’ve seen rising attacks on people and places of worship; in Vietnam, where authorities harassed members of unregistered religious communities; in Nigeria, where several state governments are using anti-defamation and blasphemy laws to punish people for expressing their beliefs, Blinken said.
China, he said, continues to harass adherents of other religions that it deems out of line with the Chinese Communist Party doctrine, including by destroying Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and Taoist houses of worship and by erecting barriers to employment and housing for Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners.
In Afghanistan, conditions for religious freedom have deteriorated dramatically under the Taliban, particularly as they crack down on the basic rights of women and girls to get an education, to work, to engage in society, often under the banner of religion, he said.
Meanwhile, ISIS-K is conducting increasingly violent attacks against religious minorities, particularly Shia Hazaras, he added.
In Pakistan, at least 16 individuals accused of blasphemy were sentenced to death by Pakistani courts in 2021 though none of these sentences has yet to be carried out, Blinken said.
Beyond these countries, the report documents how religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities are under threat in communities around the world, he said.