Religious Freedom Chair Says New Government Must Protect Religious Minorities

June 25, 2004

Source: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (PBS)

On June 25, 2004 Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (PBS) ran an interview with Dr. Michael Young, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on the role of religion in the new Iraq. When asked whether he was concerned about the rights of religious minorites, he responded, "There are pretty good protections in the transitional administrative law -- both the protections that are provided -- it references the international human rights documents. The critical thing, I think, will be to ensure that those laws are enacted on a permanent basis and then they find some ways to really enforce those, and to really protect the religious groups and the individuals within those groups." When asked if the current situation of religious leaders mobilizing political power complicated the situation, he responded, "Well, it certainly does complicate the situation, because then religious dissent becomes both heresy and treason. There really have to be serious protections to allow people to debate, to ensure that those religious leaders can't use inappropriate leverage and power to gain political control."