RTillerson International Religious Freedom Report

No mention was made of Muslims being attacked in a targeted manner in the US

Rex Tillerson, the United States Secretary of State, spoke for the Trump administration when he highlighted the country's commitment to protect ethnic and religious groups targeted by the Islamic State, a brutal terrorist organization, when his department published its maiden International Religious Freedom Report after President Trump assumed office. The Secretary of State, however, did not mention the recent uptick in violent attacks against Muslims living the U.S.

Tillerson said, “As we make progress in defeating ISIS and denying them their caliphate, their terrorist members have and continue to target multiple religions and ethnic groups for rape, kidnapping, enslavement and even death.” Tillerson continued, “ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled.” He said that intolerance and religious persecution is the order of the day in many parts of the globe. Adding that approximately 80 percent of the world population were forced to live within restrictions or hostilities which severely limit their religious freedom. The report contained an extensive list of religious freedom being threatened in 199 countries. The United States was not present in the list. This aberration was explained by Michael Kozak, the Ambassador of Bureau of Democracy under the State Department, “We do not rate ourselves. I would put our record on religious freedom up against anybody in the world.”

The published report recognized that refugee resettlement was important. The text, however, did not acknowledge that the Trump administration itself has taken a hard stand on limiting all refugees to gain entry into United States. Ambassador Kozak brushed away this incongruity by saying that the number of refugees is more than the United States can take.

When it came to ISIS, Tillerson said that the Trump administration regards protection of groups like Yazidis and Christians persecuted by the Islamic State a human rights priority. He said the United States will continue to work with the country's regional partners to protect the religious minority communities in the region from the scourge of terrorist attacks. Their cultural heritage must also be preserved.

The 2016 International Religious Freedom Report recognizes the action of resettlement as an important aspect of providing refugees their much-needed protection. Tillerson pointed out that many governments utilize discriminatory laws to curb religious freedoms afforded to their citizens. Examples of this kind range from attacking Shiite Muslims living in Saudi Arabia to the Falun Gong members serving time in China. The Secretary of State also mentioned church demolition in Sudan.

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