Bigotry against Jews and Muslims on the rise, says US

Rohingya Muslims pass the time at a camp for people displaced by violence, near Sittwe 26 April 2013 In 2012, waves of religious violence engulfed parts of Burma, leaving almost 200 dead

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Discrimination against Jews and Muslims is on the rise around the world, according to an annual US Department of State report.

The findings for 2012 spoke of an increase in anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe and Asia.

It also said there was growing anti-Semitism, especially in Venezuela, Egypt and Iran.

As he unveiled the report, US Secretary of State John Kerry appointed a new special envoy on anti-Semitism.

Ira Foreman was named to replace Michael Kozak in the role, which was first created in 2004.

Mr Foreman was in charge of appealing to Jewish voters on behalf of President Barack Obama ahead of last November's election.

Apostasy laws

The International Religious Freedom Report, released on Monday, noted that in Egypt, anti-Semitic sentiment in the media sometimes included Holocaust denial or glorification.

Start Quote

Traditional forms of anti-Semitism continued to flourish”

End Quote International Religious Freedom Report

It also mentioned an incident on 19 October when Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said "amen" to a religious leader's call upon Allah to "destroy the Jews and their supporters".

Government-controlled media in Venezuela, meanwhile, had published numerous anti-Semitic statements, including in opposition to a Catholic presidential candidate with Jewish ancestors.

The report also noted the Iranian government's frequent denunciations of Judaism.

"Even well into the 21st Century, traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as conspiracy theories, use of the discredited myth of 'blood libel' and cartoons demonizing Jews continued to flourish," the report said.

It found that Muslims faced new restrictions in Belgium, which had banned face-covering religious attire in classrooms.

The report also raised concern at the restricting of headscarves in schools in Mangalore, India.

A section on Burma highlighted sustained violence and discrimination against Rohingya Muslims. The report was released as Burmese President Thein Sein met Mr Obama in the White House.

It also highlighted the targeting of Islamic minorities in majority Muslim countries.

There had been rising violence against Shia and Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, discrimination against non-Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the arrest and harassment of Sunni Muslims in Iran, the report said.

Mr Kerry said the findings also pointed to a rise in apostasy laws, which he said were frequently used to repress dissent or settle personal vendettas.

The report cites the example of a mentally disabled Christian girl who was jailed for over a month in Pakistan on blasphemy charges until she was freed amid domestic and international condemnation.

The report also found:

  • Russia brought extremism charges against members of minority religious groups in order to restrict their right to assembly
  • Two credible reports from Sudan that the authorities had razed churches
  • Maldives officials had been pressuring citizens to conform to a stricter interpretation of Islamic practice

As he unveiled the report in Washington DC, Mr Kerry acknowledged that America's own record was not perfect, but said religious freedom was a "universal value".

"The freedom to profess and practise one's faith - to believe or not to believe, or to change one's beliefs - that is a birthright of every human being," he said.

"I urge all countries, especially those identified in this report, to take action now to safeguard this fundamental freedom."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The US says hat other countries have religious really couldn't make it up! Try looking in the mirror to see what passes for "normal" in the bible belt. Great constitution - shame about real-life...

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    I think Catholics should speak out, after all they were getting the rough treatment in the US in the early 20th century. Much of the anti-semetism however is arising out of Israels treatment of Palestinians, the problem with a State like Israel which claims to represent all Jews is that everything that Israel does is associated with Judaism even for those Jews who are against the occupation

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    It seems that the world would be a far better place without any religion. Morality & honesty type quality among people are stronger & sustainable if that arises from facts & logic than religion.
    Development of a country/ society/organization is directly proportional to rise in atheism/agnosticism among its citizens/members.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Every year I come across the US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report, every year I page down the list to U, and every year U-n-i-t-e-d S-t-a-t-e-s is missing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I'm not surprised by this: the fact is we're all getting very fed up of all religions that try and impose their beliefs on others, especially by force or violence. I've nothing against anyone's beliefs, as long as they make them happy, that's fine. But I strongly object when those people try and tell me what to wear, how to behave, what to eat, drink, when to have sex etc etc etc...

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    To 90. WaywardTraveller

    What, like communism? That way, everyone can be oppressed by the state instead of religion!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Branko@65 I would suggest you ignore them, these are the kinds of people who you should report to the police, so that they get a good long sentence. They give the majority and bad name. If I heard this comments or had any information about fellow muslim preaching this or hatred i would have no hesitation in notifying the police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    One way to stop all this bigotry. Ban religions. Jobs a good un!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    The problems are not down to any religion, the problems are down to people - specifically, people with an agenda who find a convenient excuse for it in religion, and the foolish people they are able to convince that they are right.

    Every religion in the world, even atheism, has it's loonies eager to hate anyone that is perceived as different, and these people are the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Religions have always meant intolerance and division to many of their adherents. I believe that I follow more closely the precepts of Christianity as an atheist than do most Christians. In my ideal world there'd be no influence in politics or society exerted by religions. If people want to believe in, and worship, a supernatural being, fine; I don't accept their imposition of that on my life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    US denies its essential bigotry. Where's the proof? Well, inter alia, "it is impossible to be president, congressman, senator, judge, supervisor, school board member or any other prominent political [office-holder] ... unless one is a supernaturalist." (Prof James Mitchell, Harvard philosophy department.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    "Bigotry against religions rising..."...???!

    Oh the irony.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    #66: Do your homework and get your facts straight. Boko Haram- the terrorist group in Nigeria killing innocent people and trying to distabilze the country is a Muslim Extremist group not christians. Do Nigerian Christians sometimes retaliate? Well, tell me what would you do, if some terrorist group start killing your loved ones, one by one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    'It found that Muslims faced new restrictions in Belgium, which had banned face-covering religious attire in classrooms.'
    Sounds like the system protecting Muslim children to can they expect to be accepted at school with faces covered?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Speaking as an American Christian, we do not bomb mosques and synargogues - and probably churches for all I know - like they're doing in Iraq right now. The American Way is to take out the bad guys by surgical drone strikes. Cleanly. Not this barbaric bombing of civilians. So, I must repeat, the fire button of a Hellcat missile is something that will only be wrested from our cold dead hands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    @75 - You are exhibit A is the type of bigotry this article is talking about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    "Bigotry by Jews and Muslims against anyone who isn't in their religion on the rise" says me

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    It is disgraceful that alongside the most primitive forms of antisemitism they mention the ban on face covering in that human rights abusing country.... Belgium. What a politically correct farce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Well gee. Thank god for religion...

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    When religions treat everyone equally I will support them. Don't tell me I have to be tolerant of these religions when they are so hateful to others. Just look at how these religions treat gay people ! Religions pay NO taxes & their leaders are unelected yet they are STILL dictating & shaping our laws. This has to end !


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