Last year's annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom focused its policy recommendations on only three countries: China, Russia, and Sudan (Egypt, India, Iran, and Vietnam were also briefly discussed). This year, the commission broadened its scope to also include India, Indonesia, Iran, North Korea, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Vietnam. Its findings: religious persecution is on the rise in most of them. "The situation in China has grown worse over the past year," India has seen "a disturbing increase in violence against minority Christians and Muslims," violence in Indonesia "reached new and more-deadly levels," and Sudan was named "the world's most violent abuser of the right to freedom of religion and belief."
It's rather difficult to summarize the broad scope and recommendations of the report in a few sentences—they include such disparate proposals as "ensure that Beijing is not selected as a site for the Olympic Games" and "[use] U.S. foreign-assistance funds … to support civic groups that teach and foster religious tolerance." But it's worth noting that this year's commission report has several potentially controversial additions from last year. In one, the commission examined the right to evangelize and change religion. "These are important, complex, and sensitive issues, and thus can present difficult challenges for U.S. policymakers," the report said. Also, the commission recommended that the U.S. government use its capital markets to pressure foreign companies that do business in persecuting countries. (Some argue that allowing companies like Talisman Energy to do business in places like Sudan can ...1
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