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Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is closely monitoring increased protest activity in Iran and expresses concern the government may heighten its persecution of religious minorities and dissidents in response. Since December 2017, Iran’s government has reacted to widespread popular protests in the country by cracking down on Iranians who do not align with the government’s official religious views, accusing them of disloyalty, espionage, and/or endangering national security. read more
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today praised the State Department’s announcement that it has named nine “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for particularly severe religious freedom violations and placed seven countries on its “Special Watch List” (SWL) for severe violations, pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)  read more
The global Jewish community is facing a rising tide of anti-Semitic hatred characterized by vandalism, Holocaust denial, violent attacks, hate speech, and the perpetuation of vicious stereotypes. Devastating attacks on synagogues, like the one in October in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, illustrate the risks Jews take by seeking to worship and live out their religious identity. Jews in some regions are even refraining from wearing kippahs, Star of David necklaces, and other identifying clothing in order to prevent targeted attacks against them. read more
Washington, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomed the U.S. Department of Treasury’s imposition of sanctions yesterday on two of Iran’s “Hanging Judges”, Judge Abolghassem Salavati and Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, under Executive Order 13846. Both judges have been responsible for miscarriages of justice and severe violations of religious freedom in Iran. USCIRF has long recommended the sanctioning of both judges. read more
WASHINGTON, DC (December 19, 2019)  A bill drafted and shepherded through Congress by Democratic and Republican members reauthorizes the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for an additional three years. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, which successive U.S. administrations have raised and championed. USCIRF serves a critical role in defending and promoting the universal right to freedom of religion abroad by highlighting severe violations and making policy recommendations to address them to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. read more

Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project

USCIRF's Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project highlights individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as the dedicated advocacy of USCIRF Commissioners working for their release. Please click the photos below for more information on the prisoners, and the Commissioners' efforts on their behalfs.
 

USCIRF Religious Prisoners of Conscience

 

 

 

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Recent Publications

A Survey of 2017-2018 Saudi Middle and High School Textbooks catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries. This follow-on contracted study reviews 22 middle and high school textbooks published by the Saudi government for the 2017-2018 academic year, including the 12 high school books previously reviewed by USCIRF in its May 2018 Special Report.

Central Nigeria: Overcoming Dangerous Speech and Endemic Religious Divides examines how dangerous speech and polarizing narratives in Nigeria have fueled violence, discrimination and segregation between Muslims and Christians for decades, particularly in central Nigeria, and how these dynamics have contributed to violence and religious freedom violations.

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USCIRF Applauds Sanctions against Senior Burmese Military Officials

WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the Department of Treasury’s designation of senior Burmese military officials for sanctions under Executive Order 13818 and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, due to their individual roles in mass atrocities in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states. Designated individuals include Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military; Soe Win, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military; Than Oo, a leader of the 99th Light Infantry Division in Rakhine State; and Aung Aung, a leader of the 33rd Light Infantry Division in Rakhine State.

USCIRF Releases New Report on Shari’ah Criminal Law in Northern Nigeria

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released a study conducted by Bauman Global on Shari’ah Criminal Law in Northern Nigeria. The report examines the laws and institutions in three northern states in Nigeria: Kano, Sokoto, and Zamfara, which are among 12 states where Islamic penal laws and criminal procedure codes are used.

USCIRF Raises Serious Concerns and Eyes Sanctions Recommendations for Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in India, Which Passed Lower House Today

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is deeply troubled by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), originally introduced by Home Minister Amit Shah, in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) given the religion criterion in the bill. The CAB will now move to the Rajya Sabha (Indian Parliament’s Upper House). If the CAB passes in both houses of parliament, the United States government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership.

USCIRF Raises Alarm about Speech Laws that Restrict Religious Freedom in More than Half of African Countries

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released a report entitled “Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Hate Speech Laws in Africa: Implications for Freedom of Religion or Belief.” This report examines these speech restrictions and their impact on religious freedom across the African continent.

Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Hate Speech Laws in Africa

The freedoms of opinion and expression and of religion or belief are intricately intertwined—where violations occur against one, there are often violations against the other. Although these human rights are protected under articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), states around the world continue to pass and enforce laws that restrict both freedoms. This paper provides a survey and analysis of speech restrictions in Africa that have, or may, limit FoRB. Laws that restrict apostasy (the public renunciation of one’s religion), blasphemy (the insult of a religion or religious objects or places), and hate speech (generally encompassing communication that prejudices a particular group based on race, religion, ethnicity, or other factor) all limit freedom of expression. Such laws also have unique implications for citizens’ abilities to express and practice their faith. These laws are prevalent throughout Africa, where at least 9 countries have apostasy laws, at least 25 criminalize blasphemy, and at least 29 have laws against hate speech.

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About the Commission

Who We Are

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion or belief.

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