For Immediate Release
January 29, 2020
USCIRF Releases New Report on Religious Freedom Conditions in Saudi Arabia
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new report:
Saudi Arabia Policy Brief – This report provides a short overview of religious freedom conditions in Saudi Arabia in 2019. While Saudi Arabia has made some important legal reforms, particularly with regards to women’s rights, it has not addressed the underlying structural impediments to religious freedom in the country. In April, it conducted a mass execution of Shi’a Muslims, including some who were minors at the time they allegedly committed their crimes. No public worship is allowed in the country for non-Muslims, and the government continues to harass and surveil members of these communities. Women, such as Loujain al-Hathloul, who dissent from the government’s mandatory religious guardianship laws have been detained and subjected to severe mistreatment. On several occasions throughout 2019, the Saudi government released content on social media referring to feminism as a form of extremism. In late 2019, USCIRF Religious Prisoner of Conscience Raif Badawi was denied access to books and medicine and subsequently went on a hunger strike to protest these conditions.
In its 2019 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate Saudi Arabia as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) due to its systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.
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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or call (202) 523-3240.