Spotlight

On December 10, 1948, 48 nations in the UN General Assembly adopted a remarkable document that is as relevant today as it was then: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). View USCIRF's Human Rights Day op-ed here .

This week on December 10, 2013 USCIRF Commissioner Zuhdi Jasser  testified before a House Foreign Affairs joint subcommittee hearing  on human rights abuses in Egypt – read his testimony here .

Find out more about the current status human rights, particularly religious freedom, around... Read More

The Central African Republic (CAR) has a long history of political strife that frequently has led to coups and human rights abuses. Yet the current chaos and fighting following the March 2013 coup against former President Fran-coise Bozizé is uniquely dangerous, as it increasingly is centered around re-ligious identity and risks pulling the country into an intractable Muslim-Christian conflict. If these forces are not contained, severe human rights abuses are expected to be increasingly perpetrated along religious and ethnic lines.

To learn more about the current situation in the Central African Republic, see USCIRF's CAR Policy Brief here .

11/18/13: ...On Sudan

The Sudanese government’s imposition of Shari’ah countrywide in 1983, including on the predominantly animist and Christian South, significantly contributed to the onset of Sudan’s 20 year North-South civil war. Today, concerns about Shari’ah being central to a future constitution and the law remain.

To learn more about the role of shari'ah in Sudan's constitution and law, see USCIRF's Sudan Policy Brief here .

10/29/13: ...On Iraq

Against the backdrop of the worst sectarian violence in Iraq since 2008, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Washington for meetings this week. According to United Nations figures, more than 5,000 people have been violently killed in Iraq since April, including almost 1,000 in September alone.

To read about the religious freedom situation in Iraq, see USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report Iraq chapter here .

As world leaders gather in New York this week for the new General Assembly session,they should be challenged to repealblasphemy laws, which violate international standards and UN resolutions.

View USCIRF's op-ed here.

9/16/13: ...On Egypt

View USCIRF's September 12 letter to President Obama urging him to "speak out clearly and forcefully about the unprecedented sectarian attacks committed against Christians in Egypt that proliferated at a frenetic pace on August 14 and the immediate days thereafter."

View full letter here.

...that since August 2011 Turkey has returned more than 300 previously-expropriated properties to the country’s religious minority communities? However, many more properties have not been returned.

Starting in 1936, the Turkish government expropriated properties from religious minority communities, including churches, schools, businesses, hospitals, orphanages, and cemeteries. These property expropriations, especially of churches and schools, seriously limited religious minority communities’ ability to enjoy religious freedom.

In August 2011, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a revised process for the restitution of expropriated properties to minority religious communities. In comparison to previous attempts to return property, religious minority communities initially viewed the government’s latest attempt more positively. The government no longer requires the religious minority community to present a title or deed, which many did... Read More

... that a Taliban leader says he wants an inclusive Afghan government, but one based on Taliban ideology?

Secret peace talks reportedly are underway between the Taliban and Afghan government. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar recently said that he will not attempt to monopolize power in Afghanistan after U.S. and international military forces withdraw, but that the Taliban seeks “an inclusive government based on Islamic principles.”

The consequences of Mullah Omar’s aspirations, if achieved, need to be fully considered, as a restrictive interpretation of Islamic law is already enshrined in Afghanistan’s constitution. Under the current legal system, Afghans lack protection if they dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy, debate... Read More

....that Boko Haram has attacked more than 40 churches since 2012?

Boko Haram, a Hausa-language name meaning “western education is a sin,” is an Islamic sect that sees the federal and northern state governments, as well as political and religious elites, as morally corrupt. Boko Haram rejects the west and the secular state and seeks the universal implementation of “pure” sharia law to resolve the ills facing northern Nigerian Muslims. While sharia already is applied in the 12 northern Nigeria states, the organization believes that politicians have corrupted it for their own gain.

Boko Haram targets include churches, individual Christians, persons engaged in “unIslamic” activities, Muslim critics, northern elders, schools, police stations, government buildings, newspapers, and banks. International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated in November 2012 that there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that Boko Haram has committed crimes against... Read More

...that since the June 30 large-scale protests in Egypt that led to the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, there has been an upsurge of attacks against Coptic Christians and that these attacks have resulted in several deaths and injuries?

According to a recent report published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), at least 9 Copts, including a priest, have been killed since June 30, and dozens of Coptic churches, private homes, and businesses have been either looted or destroyed. Recent attacks have occurred in various parts of the country, including in Luxor, Minya, Marsa Matrouh, Port Said, and Sinai. Extremist clerics have inflamed much of the recent violence, using incendiary rhetoric inciting violence against and vilifying Copts. Egyptians human rights groups have found that extremists and some Morsi supporters have channeled vengeful anger at Copts because of... Read More

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