Washington, D.C.- In Defense of Christians (IDC), the nation’s leading advocacy organization for Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, commends the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for release of their 2020 Annual Report. In their 2020 report, USCIRF recommends that the following 14 countries be designated by the State Department as “countries of particular concern” (CPC) for “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations:” Burma, China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin said that while USCIRF applauds the Trump Administration’s efforts to prioritize international religious freedom, the commission “also urge[s] the Administration to discontinue the repeated imposition of preexisting sanctions or waivers for CPC-designated countries, and instead, take a unique action for each country to provide accountability for religious freedom abuses.”

“IDC is grateful for the work of USCIRF and of the Trump Administration in prioritizing international religious freedom,” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini. “Now is the time to apply rhetoric to action. Saudi Arabia does not even permit the existence of a single church within its borders. They also enable the diffusion of extremist Wahhabist theology, which inspires groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS to commit genocide against Christians. American allies should share American values. Saudi Arabia must not be shielded from sanctions for their violations against religious liberty and support of persecutors of Christians,” he added.

Despite some of the worst violations against religious freedom in the world, Saudi Arabia has received sanctions waivers from the Department of State. USCIRF has recommended them for CPC status annually since 2004.


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