Bahai News - Religious Freedom: a Global View

Religious Freedom: a Global View; Hyde Schedules Thursday Hearing With U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON, May 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Established by Congress in 1998, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently published findings critical of China, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Sudan, and Vietnam, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The commission, which includes prominent leaders of the Baha'i, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities, was established to monitor religious freedom around the world, and is required to issue a report on May 1 of each year.

    WHAT:  Oversight hearing on the annual report of the U.S. Commission on
           International Religious Freedom.

    WHEN:  11:30, Thursday, May 24, 2001

    WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Bldg.

WITNESSES SCHEDULED: Elliott Abrams, chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and president, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Rabbi David Saperstein, commissioner, USCIRF, and director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Laila al-Marayati, commissioner, USCIRF, and past President, Muslim Women's League; Nina Shea, commissioner, USCIRF, and director, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House.

What are criticisms of some countries cited in the report?

* Several governments cited in the 2001 report were selected because of their involvement with systematic violations of religious freedom, including in some cases imprisonment and torture on account of religious belief and practice. Others on the list do not actively engage in such violations but, according to the report, do little or nothing to stop religious persecution of minority groups.

What happens next?

* The annual report also suggests policy changes including recommendations for: restrictions on U.S. foreign aid to ensure such aid does not subsidize governments or groups actively engaged in religious persecution; additional foreign assistance for projects designed to encourage religious tolerance; restrictions on access to U.S. capital markets by governments or groups contributing to religious persecution; and proposals to formalize U.S. opposition to certain loans by international financial institutions to governments engaged in such persecution.

SOURCE U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International
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