Entries in Freedom (3)


State Department's Religious Freedom Report Indicates Back Sliding

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Declaring that religious freedom is an essential component of democracy, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared on Monday that the world seems to be regressing in allowing people to worship as they choose.

Unveiling the 2011 State Department International Religious Freedom Report, Clinton said, "Members of faith communities that have long been under pressure report that pressure is rising.  When it comes to this human right...the world is sliding backwards."

Among the worst offenders is China, cited by the State Department for slapping more restrictions on Tibetan Buddhist monks, Muslims and other religious groups not affiliated with Beijing's official state-sanctioned "patriotic religious associations."

The report also called out North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Burma, also known as Myanmar, which has just begun to reestablish relations with the U.S. after more than half-a-century.

In countries that have undergone democratic revolutions over the past year, Clinton pointed out that religious freedom remains tenuous in Egypt as sectarian violence has increased against Coptic Christians although the secretary said she received assurances from Egypt's new Muslim president that his administration would be inclusive of all faiths.

There has been some progress as well in Libya as its new leaders said they would no longer abide by laws enforced by the late Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who restricted religious freedom, choosing instead to allow freedom of religion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jordan: Eight Injured As Anti-Government Protests Turn Violent

Photo Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images(AMMAN, Jordan) -- Uprisings in Egypt have triggered similar protests across the Mideast. In Jordan, Friday marked the seventh straight day of protests between government supporters and anti-government demonstrators.

At least eight people were reported injured in Friday’s demonstrations. Protesters are calling for greater freedoms and lower prices on items such as food.

“High prices,” one protester said, “we wish that the government will do something about it.”

Another demonstrator said the time has come for Jordanians to demand what, he says, they deserve.

“We are, as Jordanians are, calling for our rights.”

The U.S. is appealing to the government of Bahrain to show restraint and usher in political reform after security forces used violence to break up pro-democracy protests, leaving at least five people dead.

The Obama administration is keeping a watchful eye on the fluid situation in Bahrain, which is the home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a strong ally of Saudi Arabia, another Arab nation that may soon experience anti-government protests that have spread rapidly throughout the Middle East over the past month.

In Bahrain, opposition forces are calling for the prime minister to step down, as well as demanding improvements in quality of life issues such as wages and housing.

As in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters have been spurred on by bloggers using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are more difficult for the government to suppress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Than 99% of South Sudanese Residents Vote For Secession

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KHARTOUM, Sudan) -- Results were released from the vote for southern independence in Sudan on Sunday, and were overwhelmingly one-sided. Of the nearly four million residents that voted, 98.83 percent of the votes were in favor of the southern region of the country seceding from the north to form a new nation. Of southern residents, more than 99 percent were in favor of the change.

The vote comes as the result of a 2005 peace agreement that ended a nearly 20-year civil war between the north and the south, which claimed over two million lives. The two regions clashed over many issues including religion and oil. The north is a largely Islamic area, and the south is predominantly Christian and rich with oil.

U.N. officials praised the vote, but still expressed concern over possible issues in the future including border disputes, and fair distribution of oil revenues.

Southern independence is scheduled to go into effect on July 9.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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