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The International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently announced that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be postponed to July 2021. This is the first time the games have been postponed during peacetime in the 124-year history of the modern Olympic movement. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, athletes around the world had asked the IOC to postpone the games so that they would not be forced to choose between their health and their sport.
In March 2019, Ms. Bui Thi Kim Phuong, a Hoa Hao Buddhist from Vietnam, prepared to board a flight to the United States for a series of meetings on the deteriorating human rights and religious freedom conditions in Vietnam. Ms. Phuong was stopped by Vietnamese security authorities at Tan Son Nhat airport and forced to return home. Her offense: she is married to Nguyen Bac Truyen, a prominent prisoner of conscience and religious freedom advocate.
How far can a government limit religious freedom in the name of fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) under international law? As the global pandemic continues, many national and local governments are grappling with this question. Religious gatherings are important opportunities for people to practice and share their beliefs, but they are also sites for transmission of COVID-19, endangering not only participants in these gatherings but everyone with whom they interact. Crises require decisive government action, but governments often use times of crisis to encroach on individual freedoms or target minority groups long after the crisis has passed.
How far can a government limit religious freedom in the name of fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19)? As the global pandemic continues, many national and local governments are grappling with this question. Religious gatherings are important opportunities for people to practice and share their beliefs, but they are also sites for transmission of COVID-19, endangering not only participants in these gatherings but everyone with whom they interact. Crises require decisive government action, but governments often use times of crisis to encroach on individual freedoms or target minority groups long after the crisis has passed.
In recent weeks, protesters gathered around the world to draw attention to Raif Badawi, a blogger who was imprisoned in 2014 by the Saudi Government. His supposed crime? Nothing more than writing blog posts that called for greater religious tolerance and dared to imagine a freer future for the Saudi people.  
Monsoon season is currently wreaking havoc on the more than 911,000 Rohingya refugees displaced from their homeland in Burma to the ramshackle camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Two years ago, in August 2017, a brutal military crackdown pushed more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities from Burma’s Rakhine State to flee for safety. The Burmese military has shamefully denied and tried to hide its barbarism, which includes arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, displacement, rape, torture and arbitrary killings. And, Burma’s government has repudiated the international community’s attempts to document the crimes committed under international law, all while denying Rohingya basic rights like freedom of movement, access to health care and basic necessities, and citizenship.
In a country where as many as 2 million Uighurs and other Muslims are imprisoned in concentration camps, tortured and forced by Chinese officials to renounce their faith, one man’s reported crimes of religious persecution may stand above all others — Chen Quanguo.
Recently, Grace Natalie, head and founder of the young and progressive Indonesian Solidarity Party, gave a speech at a party gathering in which she criticized laws prohibiting “immoral acts” like gambling and drinking.
It has been more than a year since Burmese authorities began a brutal campaign terrorizing, sexually assaulting, and killing mainly Rohingya Muslims, leaving burned villages and corpses in their wake; more than a year since more than 700,000 fled across the border to Bangladesh. Despised for being both ethnically and religiously different, Rohingya Muslims are considered by Burma's military and many of the majority Buddhist population as outsiders illegally residing in the country with the goal of spreading Islam across the land.
The Houthi regime in Yemen claims that Baha’is are waging a “Satanic war” against Muslim Yemenis. The escalation of hateful rhetoric conjures up frightening memories of what Baha’is in Iran faced immediately after the 1979 revolution.

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