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In the months following the release of USCIRF’s 2019 Annual Report, the Bahraini government has continued to make some progress toward improved religious freedom conditions. In March 2019, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) participated in the 200th anniversary celebration of Bahrain’s Hindu community at a ceremony in Manama along with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister and several members of the royal family. In April, Bahrain’s government reinstated the citizenship of 551 Bahrainis—mostly Shi’a Muslims—which it had previously revoked. In June 2019, the synagogue in Manama hosted its first morning worship service in more than 70 years, attended predominantly by American participants in the Trump administration’s Middle East peace workshop. Bahrain’s foreign minister also participated, for the second year, in the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, in Washington, DC in July 2019. read more
Saudi Arabia has taken some limited steps toward greater religious freedom in 2019 while continuing to restrict it in other ways. On a positive note, Saudi Arabia eased religious restrictions on women’s mobility in 2019 and allowed Saudi women for the first time to report births, marriages, and divorces. It also began issuing tourist visas and relaxed religious restrictions on dress for women visitors to the Kingdom. Yet at the same time, the government has conducted mass executions of Shi’a Muslims. It continued to detain several religious prisoners of conscience and severely mistreat activists who peacefully protested religious guardianship laws, and in official communications it described feminism as a form of radical extremism. read more
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) applauds today’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague concerning the Rohingya in Burma’s Rakhine State. The ICJ ordered the Burmese government to “take all measures within its power” to ensure that the military and any irregular armed units “do not commit acts of genocide” against Rohingya in Rakhine State and to submit regular reports to the court demonstrating its compliance with the order. read more
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

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 Presses for Targeted Sanctions for Atrocities Committed Against Burma’s Rohingya Muslims and Other Religious and Ethnic Communities

WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called on the U.S. government and the international community to pursue strong policy responses, including the continued use of targeted sanctions, to hold accountable members of Burma’s military, security forces, and some nonstate actors for severe human rights and religious freedom violations against Burma’s Rohingya Muslims and other religious and ethnic communities.

USCIRF Statement on New Restrictions by Vietnamese Government on Religious Leader Patriarch Thích Quảng Độ

WASHINGTON, DC — United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga today called on the government of Vietnam to respect the freedom of movement and religious freedom of Patriarch Thích Quảng Độ, the leader of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

USCIRF Statement on Tomorrow’s Hearing of Russian Prisoner of Conscience Ivan Matsitsky

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRFVice Chair Kristina Arriaga today expressed concern over reports that Russian investigators introduced falsified information into the case against Ivan Matsitsky, a leader in St. Petersburg’s Scientology community who was arrested last year on charges of involvement in an “extremist conspiracy.”

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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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