U.S. Panel: Religious Freedom Ebbing In Russia, Turkey

May 1, 2009

Author: William C. Mann

Source: The Hartford Courant


A congressionally backed panel said today that religious freedoms were deteriorating in Russia, Turkey and four other nations that were added to a watch list of countries where people's rights to worship as they please or not to worship at all are at risk.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also named Nigeria as a "country of particular concern," joining 12 other countries that the commission considers the world's worst violators.

In the same report, the commission removed Bangladesh from the watch list. Muslim Bangladesh, with a history of violence against minorities, especially Hindus, saw relatively little violence during December elections, and a 15-party alliance was sworn in to replace a two-year military-backed interim government.

Besides Russia and NATO-member Turkey, the commission added to the watch list Laos, Somalia, Tajikistan and Venezuela. They joined Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba and Egypt, already on the list.

Countries are placed on the watch list or the more serious "countries of particular concern," or CPC, list because their governments either discriminate against people for religious reasons or are unwilling or unable to stop religious violence by their citizens.