Anti-Semitism is rising worldwide, including in the United States and across Europe; anti-Muslim hatred is widespread in many countries with religious freedom of deep concern in China, Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Burma, says the U.S. Secretary of State.
Speaking at the May 12 release of the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom Antony J. Blinken, said, "We have work to do to ensure that people of all faiths and backgrounds are treated with equal dignity and respect."
"More broadly, we're seeing anti-Semitism on the rise worldwide, including here in the United States as well as across Europe," said Blinken.
"It's a dangerous ideology that history has shown is often linked with violence. We must vigorously oppose it wherever it occurs."
He noted that anti-Muslim hatred is still widespread in many countries, and this, too, is a serious problem for the United States as well as in Europe.
The annual Report to the U.S. Congress on International Religious Freedom – the International Religious Freedom Report – describes the status of religious freedom in every country.
The report covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world.
The U.S. Department of State submits the reports in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
"Religious freedom, like every human right, is universal. All people, everywhere, are entitled to it no matter where they live, what they believe, or what they don't believe," said Blinken.
"Religious freedom is co-equal with other human rights because human rights are indivisible. Religious freedom is not more or less important than the freedom to speak and assemble, to participate in the political life of one's country, to live free from torture or slavery, or any other human right. Indeed, they're all interdependent."
He said, "Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world without a Christian church, though there are more than a million Christians living in Saudi Arabia."
In Saudi Arabia authorities continue to jail human rights activists like Raif Badawi, who was sentenced in 2014 to a decade in prison and a thousand lashes for speaking about his beliefs.
A few examples from this year's report include Iran which it said continues to intimidate, harass, and arrest members of minority faith groups, including Baha'i, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Sunni and Sufi Muslims.
The report cites Burma, or Myanmar as it is also known, where the Feb. 1 military coup leaders are among those responsible for ethnic cleansing and other atrocities against Rohingya, most of whom are Muslim, and other religious and ethnic minorities around the world.
"In Russia, authorities continue to harass, detain, and seize property of Jehovah's Witnesses as well as members of Muslim minority groups on the pretense of alleged extremism," said Blinken.
In Nigeria, courts continue to convict people of blasphemy, sentencing them to long-term imprisonment or even death. Yet the government has still not brought anyone to justice for the military's massacre of hundreds of Shia Muslims in 2015.
"And China broadly criminalizes religious expression and continues to commit crimes against humanity and genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups," said Blinken.