On Wednesday, the US State Department released its annual report on religious freedom around the world in 2019.
The report bears the number 22 and, from Washington’s perspective, monitors “restrictions imposed on religious minorities” in nearly 200 countries around the world.
This report was presented by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with the traveling ambassador to the United States for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, at a press conference on Wednesday.
In his introduction, Foreign Minister Pompeo stressed the religious pressures exerted on minorities in China, Iran and Russia.
the minister pointed out that violations of religious freedoms committed around the world in 2019 witnessed a decrease compared to 2018, describing it as a “good development.”
Pompeo also welcomed and praised the lawsuit filed by the Gambia before the International Court of Justice in relation to crimes against Arakan Muslims in Myanmar.
Repression continues against Arakan’s Muslims
The report indicated that repression and violence are still being practiced by the regime in Myanmar against the Arakan Muslims, and that the government there is not making any attempts to stop this, noting that the people of Arakan continue their lives under the difficult circumstances that were before 2017.
The report added, “The United States at various levels appealed to the Myanmar government to establish religious freedoms, end racism against minorities, stop the repressive policies committed against Arakan Muslims, and address anti-Muslim rhetoric in general.”
The report also discussed the religious pressure exerted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, noting in this regard that the country continues to witness the banning of any practices related to other religions, and that everyone who opposes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman treats the treatment of criminals.
The report also pointed out that Muslim minorities of followers of different faiths are subject to severe repression in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and that those arrested in general are subjected to severe penalties in unfair trials.
At the same time, the report indicated that the Saudi administration is seeking to implement some reforms in the context of freedom of religion and thought, indicating that Washington welcomes these steps.
Limited criticism of Egypt
The American report also discussed Egypt, and stressed that the Egyptian government is closing some churches, and does not allocate space for Christians to establish their own places of worship.
He also pointed out that citizens of the Shiite sect do not enter the army, nor the security and intelligence services.
It was remarkable in the report that it did not address the death of the late Mohamed Morsi, the first elected civilian president in Egypt, who died because of the bad conditions he lived during his detention period, and did not address the Muslim Brotherhood members who were arrested or lost their lives after the coup against Morsi.