2020 USCIRF Annual Report: Coronavirus Reveals in Greater Detail the World's Worst Religious Freedom Violators, says Family Research Council

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Family Research Council religious freedom experts reacted to today's release of the 2020 Annual Report from the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, which documents the worst religious freedom violators worldwide and makes recommendations to the administration regarding what should be done about them.

Among the countries named were some of those that FRC has focused its international religious freedom advocacy on -- China, India, North Korea, Nigeria, and Iran. In its report, USCIRF recommended that each of these countries be designated or re-designated as a "country of particular concern" -- the most serious designation given to a religious freedom violator -- by the U.S. State Department. The report also reveals how pandemic restrictions have been used as a means to target religious minorities.

FRC experts made the following comments regarding the 2020 Annual Report:

Lela Gilbert, FRC's Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom, said:

"Nigeria, Africa's largest country, has become a crucible of violence and death, with Islamist groups targeting unarmed and undefended Christian communities and individuals across several states. Nigeria's leadership has turned a blind eye to ongoing atrocities and massacres and refused to rein in the genocidal terrorism of Boko Haram, Islamic State, and Fulani jihadis. Despite President Donald Trump's direct requests, President Muhammadu Buhari has utterly failed to put an end to the relentless persecution of Nigeria's Christians, who comprise roughly half of his country's population.

"Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that is devastating Iran's population, the fanatical regime of Supreme Leader Khamenei has in no way moderated its abuse of Christians. They have refused to release a number of Christians from disease-ridden prisons, and have recently sentenced 21-year-old Christian, Mary Mohammadi, not only to prison-time but to 10 brutal lashes--simply for refusing to renounce her faith," concluded Gilbert.

Arielle Del Turco, FRC's Assistant Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, said:

"USCIRF's report confirms what we already know--that religious freedom in China is rapidly deteriorating. China uses all manner of new technology to control and suppress religious practice. As technology develops, so do China's human rights violations.

"I am grateful that USCIRF lists India among the worst countries in the world on religious freedom. Indian leaders are sure to fight this accusation, but they have often been the ones to incite violence against religious minorities or look the other way when it occurs.

"Swirling rumors about Kim Jong Un's health have brought North Korea back into the news. Yet the abysmal state of religious freedom in North Korea remains the same, and that fact is devastating for Christians there. As Chinese and North Korean authorities more closely guard their shared border, the spread of religious belief is even more stifled than before," concluded Del Turco.

To schedule an interview with one of FRC's religious freedom experts, please contact media@frc.org or call 866-372-6397.