A new report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan group, asserts that the Obama administration is turning a blind eye to persecution of Christians by Muslims in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, as well as persecution of Christians in North Korea.
Dwight Bashir, the commission’s deputy director of policy and research, told FoxNews.com:
While the Obama administration should continue to shine a spotlight on abuses through public statements, it also should impose targeted sanctions to demonstrate that there are consequences, too. By not utilizing an existing legislative tool, the United States risks sending the message that it prefers a nuclear deal to standing up for the rights of the Iranian people. The United States should not be confronting such a scenario in the first place.
The worst 16 countries that violated religious freedom were listed in the report. Iran, the report stated, had gotten even less tolerant after “purportedly moderate President Hassan Rouhani” ascended to the presidency last year. Of Iran, the report added, “As of February 2014, at least 40 Christians were either in prison, detained or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities.”
Morad Mokhtari, an Iranian human rights researcher who is Christian, stated that Rouhani “has not been effective in changing the judicial system” and there is no way to ascertain if he will challenge Iran’s sharia law.
Saudi Arabia was targeted in the report, which stated, “Not a single church or other non-Muslim house of worship exists in the country.” Some Saudi Arabian textbooks in 2013 and 2014 “justified violence against apostates and polytheists and labeled Jews and Christians ‘enemies.'”
Barack Obama never brought up the Saudi intolerance when he visited the country in March, despite the fact that a bipartisan group of 70 members of Congress asked him to discuss human rights with the Saudi government.
Egypt was criticized in the report for the persecution of Christians by Muslims under the regime of Mohammad Morsi before he was ousted:
Despite some progress during a turbulent political transition, the Morsi-era government and the interim government failed or were slow to protect religious minorities, particularly Coptic Orthodox Christians, from violence. Egypt is one of America’s most important allies in the Middle East. Just last month, the Obama administration approved a shipment of attack Apache helicopters to the military-run government.
Of North Korea, the report said:
(The so-called hermit Kingdom) maintains a songbun system, which classifies families according to their loyalty to the Kim family; religious believers have the lowest songbun rating. Spreading Christianity is a political crime. Many religious believers are incarcerated in infamous penal labor camps.
U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2013 for his work with the evangelical organization Youth With A Mission.
Pakistan was noted for its violence against Christians and Hindus, and the Pakistan Taliban suicide bombers’ attack on the All Saints Church killing more than 100 people in 2013 was mentioned.
Sudan was described thus: “Conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death, suspected converts to Christianity face societal pressure, and government security personnel intimidate and sometimes torture those suspected of conversion.”
Other countries mentioned on the list were Burma, China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Commission Chairman Robert George summed it up: “The defense of religious freedom is both a human rights imperative and a practical necessity and merits a seat at the table with economic, security and other key concerns of U.S. foreign policy.”