November 17th, 2010
04:26 PM ET

U.S. religious freedom report faults China, among others

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Religious freedom remains under threat in China, especially for followers of the Dalai Lama and Muslims in the west of the country, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday in a major report.

China harassed members of religions Beijing does not recognize, and disbarred, harassed and imprisoned lawyers who tried to defend them, the State Department said.

And there were "credible reports" that Beijing tried to force Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims to return to China from abroad because of their activism for religious freedom, the U.S. said.

Only Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants are allowed to practice their religions legally in China.

There was no immediate response to the report from China.

China is one of eight nations designated a "country of particular concern" for religious freedom by the United States, along with Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

The findings come from the State Department's annual International Religious Freedom Report.

Washington criticizes another 17 countries on its long list, ranging from enormous Russia to the tiny Maldives.

Some are countries where religious violence is bloody, such as Nigeria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Respect for religious freedom deteriorated" in Afghanistan during the period covered by the report, "particularly toward Christian groups and individuals," the State Department said.

Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, as well as Muslims whose practices don't satisfy the government or society, suffer "intolerance in the form of harassment, occasional violence, discrimination, and inflammatory public statements," the report said.

It's also sharply critical of Iran, where "The government severely restricted freedom of religion and (there were) reports of government imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination based on religious beliefs."

And in officially Muslim Pakistan, "organized violence against members of minorities increased; for example, there was violence against Christians in Gojra, Punjab, and a terrorist attack on Ahmadis in Lahore, Punjab."

But, the State Department noted, "Federal Minister for Minorities' Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti hosted several events to promote interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance, and took an active role in assisting victims of religiously motivated attacks on Christians and Ahmadis."

Washington also had limited praise for China, along with criticism.

"The government supported the social service work of registered religious groups and allowed some foreign faith-based groups to provide social services," it said.

Foreign preachers were allowed into the country, and there were articles about religious freedom in official Chinese media, the State Department said.

The State Department list is similar to one released earlier this year by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and to a report last year by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

USCIRF's list of most egregious offenders included 13 countries, five more than the State Department.

Its report in May labeled as "countries of particular concern" Myanmar, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Iraq - although commissioners were not unanimous in including Iraq.

The State Department's list is Burma (Myanmar), China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. Inclusion on the list can trigger United States sanctions against a country, though it does not automatically do so.

The Pew Forum put out a global survey of restrictions on religion in December. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uzbekistan, China, Egypt, Burma, the Maldives, Eritrea, Malaysia and Brunei topped that list of countries with the most government restrictions on religion.

More than two out of three people around the world live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religion, the Pew Forum concluded.

Promotion of religious freedom is a core objective of U.S. foreign policy, the State Department says in the report, adding: "The right to believe or not to believe, without fear of government interference or restriction, is a basic human right."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Asia • Persecution

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    The first worst enemy to mankind is financial and soul poverty caused by injustice,ignorance,conflicts,wars and famines...!
    The second worst enemy is corruption that consume the national treasury and and exhaust  economy leading to deep poverty to the compressed majority leading them to undertaking acts of ter-rorism and pir-acy that thrives in smug-gling,traffi-cking,kid-napping and blac-kmailing beside many sorts of illegal activities org-anized or not.
    If poverty was a man I would have k-illed him. (Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib)
    No one better than this page I found to defines the true deep meanings of the word poverty: 

    November 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  2. Muneef

    Do you know that poverty is the source of all evil that is happening that neither you nor I like to see and hear of.
    Before judging me check the definition of the word poverty:


    November 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
  3. MicheleG

    im not being dramatic, u r. give it up. you have no credibility.

    November 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thank you for expressing your feeling towards me for the second time and as seems every thing I say you do not like and consider it as a lie and every body is a liar then who do you want to believe?
      I admit that I suffer a spelling problem but assisted with an auto corrector which some times changes words for me with out me noticing. Therefore I am not claiming to be perfect in spelling or grammar since this lang-uage is my second lang-uage and am not living in US but in a third world country that it's main lang-uage is Arabic but I try my best to be able to communicate with you and have enjoyed reading your discussions and participate where and when ever I can say or share some things or links that I have came across but have no intentions of hurting and I apologize if I did. 

      But I have became here to join only since Sept 09/09 when the honorable paster of Dove Church thr-eatened bur-ning the Quran and that has dra-gged me to de-fend the Quran  and since then i got stuck here and couldn't move on with my normal life with out calling around to see what happening in these blogs. but ever since that time only you more than any had shown me a different host-ile atti-tude for what ever I post?
      So here can see your atti-tude is not only you are acting like the Three W-ise Mon-keys but worse more like an agg-ressive Ape-man who does not want to listen and believe that he is a mankind that was taught by prophets in to becoming a human being having a holy spirit and that he was created magnificently by God the creator of all?

      November 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  4. MicheleG

    u kant evn spel

    November 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • muneef

      it would sound weird if i said "NNNNNEEEEEEVVVVVVEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      NEEEVVVVAAAHHHH!!!!! is so much more dramatic.

      kind of the way you were being 🙂

      November 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  5. MicheleG

    the murders show us your real agenda. And among other lies you use OUR freedom of speech to undermine OUR freedom of speech by using freedom of speech against all things we hold dear and self evident. go away. you vulgarize and contaminate our world.

    November 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • muneef


      November 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  6. MicheleG

    shut up muneef......the murders and brutalities invalidate your "arguments." you and iqbal leave us alone. you are liars.

    November 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • muneef


      November 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  7. Muneef

    @Iqbal Khan.

    Maybe you will enjoy this video clip:


    November 18, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • Muneef


      November 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  8. Muneef

    Quran Translations by El Sharawy;

    November 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • Some_Truth


      You can post quotes from and references to this book all year long and it will not change the fact that: Yes, there are some practical words of wisdom for peaceful human behavior in it (as there are in most religious texts), but just because this is true it does not make all of the supernatural fantasies in it true. There is no ground under your feet – your head is in the misty clouds.

      November 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • Muneef

      @Sum Dude.

      Dear, Maybe you are right about the ground not being under my feet and about the Misty Clouds covering my head, but at least for me and many the Holy Quran is the light i have to follow to get me on to firm ground and clear skies. It is the extracted essence of Wisdom that we seek to mobilize our lives in harmony with nature,culture and environments...

      November 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Some_Truth


      "we seek to mobilize our lives in harmony with nature,culture and environments..."

      Yes, a noble goal – no questioning that. Humans are responsible for trying to accomplish that, however. Safeguard natural resources, help your fellow humans, do no harm. Believing that ritualistic superst!tions (praying in a specified manner, washing a certain way, visiting a holy shrine, bowing to an imaginary supernatural being, etc.) will somehow magically convince this super-being to *do* anything is simply not the truth; then going one step further and proclaiming that these beliefs are the *only* way or we will suffer eternal damnation. I am not picking only on Islam - the same applies to all unproven religious belief.

      November 18, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      I am not "Some_Truth" but I see that it didn't seem to matter anyway. ....

      November 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • Muneef

      Sorry Sum Dude got confused between the Sum and Some...

      November 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  9. john g

    always so much hate and judgement ! eye see you

    November 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  10. Frogist

    @Sum Dude/wyson: The Washington Post estimates the true cost of the war to be something over 3 trillion dollars.

    November 18, 2010 at 10:16 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @Frogist – Thanks for looking that up. The article implies that even 3 or 4 trillion is likely to be too low as being the total cost.

      I had been doing that kind of guesswork and was talking in terms of "likelyhoods" and my own opinions, but I think "wyson" did not really pick up on that.

      November 18, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • wyson.

      no i definitely didnt pick up on a random guess- a lot of misinformation could be spread that way maybe?

      November 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      Not a "random" guess, but an educated guess...and therefore my private opinion. That's why I felt no need to prove my "words".
      But I was pretty tired last night or I would have tried to explain. I tried to make sure that I was not posting my opinion as "rock-solid fact" or anything like that, but I am not always good at picking out the right words for some people, I guess.

      November 18, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Sum Dude: No problem. I figured I might was well look it up to know the numbers myself anyways. 🙂

      November 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  11. Muneef


    November 18, 2010 at 7:01 am |
    • Muneef


      November 18, 2010 at 7:03 am |
    • Muneef


      November 18, 2010 at 7:04 am |
    • Nonimus

      Wow, what a bunch of anti-US anti-West propaganda.
      "genocide on Muslims"? must be the worst run "genocide" in history considering Islam is the 2nd largest religion in the world and the fastest growing.
      The US is trying to fight terrorism, not Islam.

      November 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  12. MicheleG

    The report merely "faults" china.....it couldn't have been stated in a more weak, craven tone. pathetic. china, iraq, afghanistan...they ALL treat those who don't conform or submit one way or another in horrifying, UGLY ways. their behaviors are not "faults.' their barbaric treatment and vicious and sadistic crimes are outrages against us all.

    November 18, 2010 at 5:52 am |
  13. Iqbal khan

    Cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan

    November 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
    • eggs

      thanks for your contribution to belief blog

      November 17, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
    • Reality

      We will send the bill to khan and any other Muslim out there who still believes in "angels" and warmongering prophets.

      November 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
    • wyson.

      are hugs an exceptable form of currency?

      November 17, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Actually I think the total is more likely three or four times that amount or even more.

      November 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
    • wyson.

      prove this sum dude

      November 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Try reading my post again.

      Reading comprehension for the win, wyson!

      November 17, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
    • wyson.

      i read it again... nothings sticking out...

      November 18, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  14. LiberateUs

    I thought European and American religious freedom in China went away after the Boxer Rebellion?

    November 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
    • reply

      yeah that was rough when they refused to quit wearing briefs

      November 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  15. Reality

    The Chinese would be better served by simply pointing out the flaws and falacies in all religions (and Communism). Instead, they lock people up for their beliefs. Not what you call a free society!!!

    With respect to the Dalai Lama:

    DL was basically an unknown enti-ty until the Chinese kicked him out of Tibet whereupon he became the anti-China poster boy for the State Department and the CIA (and thereby for the USA taxpayers). Should we send him a bill?

    November 17, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Reality – Do you think he would pay? Or would we give him the money to pay us like we did to Germany after WW1?

      November 17, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  16. TheRationale

    Yes, the US isn't perfect, but it is just eons ahead of these places. The worst we concerns about religious freedom in this country are about "In God We Trust" on the money and such.

    November 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  17. .

    why do we expect different countries to have America's values?

    November 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ian Kempton

      Some people do (A little unsettling that our Government f eels that way imo), but to be frank i think it is rather absurd for anyone to expect a country ON THE OTHER HALF OF THE WORLD that is THOUSANDS of years older than we to have the EXACT SAME values as we do.
      But i suppsoe ignorance is bliss eh?

      November 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Freedom of religion is not only an American value. Although the U.S. was one of the first, if not the first, to codify that value in it's supreme law of the land, many people, groups, and countries believe that religious freedom is a basic human right, regardless of where one lives.
      As is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN and signed by most nations.

      November 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      In the early nineties, I lived on an American base in Germany.
      The yanks with whom I lived used to get upset that the local stores posted their prices in deutsche marks instead of dollars and that the clerks didn't speak english.
      "If they want my business, they'll deal like Americans!" was an oft repeated refrain.
      The fact that maybe those people didn't want their business never occurred to the complainers....

      November 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  18. Ian Kempton

    And this is why I'm glad to live in the states xD!
    And why we should all not worry about people doing their own thing in terms of religion here :3, because if you were practicingyour religion and you were getting harassed that wouldnt feel very good now would it?

    November 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The Christian Right is very intolerant. The U.S. has its idiot people too.

      November 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @David Johnson

      Bro, you are the master of understatement. Next you'll be saying that Republicans aren't known for being deep thinkers....!

      November 17, 2010 at 11:45 pm |
  19. Bob

    Before the US actually criticizes other countries about religious freedoms, maybe it should check it's own record. Here's some things it could change...

    A) Removing "In God We Trust" from the money. I don't trust in God. Why should I have that blared in my face. To those who say you can ignore it, would you feel the same way if it said "In Allah We Trust".

    B) Removing laws that require persons holding office to believe in a God.

    C) Abolishing Blue Laws like not buying alcohol on Sunday.

    November 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • .

      i agree with b,c but i think that the answer is that the majority is ok with in God we trust on currency.

      the majority would probably not be ok with in allah we trust. just sayin

      November 17, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Bob, you are my kind of guy! Have a drink, buddy!

      November 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • Sum Dude


      Well said.

      November 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Bob: Can we do away with swearing on the bible and the "so help me god" stuff too? Do they not know that I will be lying even before I start giving testimony if you hand me a bible and tell me to swear on it that I'm telling the truth?

      November 18, 2010 at 9:57 am |
    • Nonimus

      "Removing laws that require persons holding office to believe in a God"
      At the federal level, this is specifically prohibited in Art IV p 3. I doubt any lower level laws would withstand a legal challenge.

      I agree that blue laws are silly, however, communities can do what they like, to a certain extent.

      I think in most cases the "So help me God" bit is optional. Definitely at the federal level. In fact I think the official swearing-in is non-religious i.e. no bibles. I think also that most court room procedures use "swear or affirm" and don't use any "so help me God" language. I don't know if a bible is present.

      November 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Nominus: Yes, thanks! I looked it up before you responded, and you are allowed to affirm your oath to tell the truth. But often you need to let someone in charge know beforehand that you don't want to swear on a bible.

      November 18, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  20. MadPanda

    Weird. Can you tell? -This is my surprised face -_-

    November 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • MadPanda

      Uhh, I mean, FIRST!

      November 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.