The report outlines nearly 200 countries and territories in 2021. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke at a press conference about the report.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental right around the world,” said Blinken. “When governments deny this right, it leads to instability and conflict.”
The report has been produced every year since 1998 when the International Religious Freedom Act was passed.
Countries that were highlighted for needed improvement include Burma, Saudi Arabia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Nigeria, Myanmar, and Russia.
“In all societies, including our own, we must do more to combat rising forms of hate,” said Blinken.
Examples of religious freedom being under attack that were highlighted in the conference include:
Myanmar’s military committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Muslim communities back in 2017. Nearly 9,000 people of the minority Rohingya population were killed.
Eritrea allows only four religious groups to practice freely. If anyone is suspected of practicing any other religion, they can be detained or arrested. The government only officially recognizes the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea.
For those living in Saudi Arabia, publicly practicing any faith besides Islam is illegal.
China continues genocide against Muslims and other faiths. Those arrested are sent to detainment or labor camps. China has also started destroying houses of worship and erecting barriers against minority faiths to apply for work and housing.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to crack down on basic rights of women and girls under the banner of religion. Isis also continues to attack minority religion groups.
In Pakistan, the country holds the largest death row and record for most death sentences, many of these on charges of blasphemy.
India, the world’s largest democracy, has had rising attacks on people in places of worship.
In Vietnam, authorities continue to harass members of different religions.
Finally, in Nigeria, state governments continue punishing people on charges of blasphemy because of their beliefs.
These are only a few that were highlighted in the press conference. While many countries have limited religious freedom, a couple countries were highlighted for their progress towards more freedom.
In Morocco, which is largely an Islamic country, the government has set resources aside to renovate and protect Jewish heritage sites, which include synagogues and cemeteries.
In Taiwan, Labor officials have been working to ensure that workers have the ability to take a day off each week to attend religious services of their faith.
No religion or faith is exempt from discrimination in the world but religious freedom is slowly improving. The full report and press conference can be viewed here.