During my travels on behalf of the Department of State, people sometimes ask, “Why does the Department of State expend so much effort to chronicle the status of religious freedom around the world?” Because religious freedom matters. In a world where 84 percent of the population claim a religion, it matters that people be free to make personal choices regarding their faith: to believe or not to believe, as well as to change one’s religion without fear. Religious freedom matters not only because it is a universal human right, but also because it is essential for peaceful and thriving societies.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at the Release of the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC on July 25, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript].
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks on the release of the International Religious Freedom Report at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2012. [State Department/ Public Domain]
Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook to Present Annual International Religious Freedom Report
Notice to the Press Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC July 27, 2012
Following the transmittal to Congress by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, will present the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report on July 30th at 12:00 p.m. in the Press Briefing Room at the U.S. Department of State. The International Religious Freedom Report covers the status of religious freedom in countries around the world.
Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook will introduce the report and take questions. MORE.
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC July 24, 2012
Today the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue concluded in Washington, DC. Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for International Organizations and Conferences Chen Xu led respective delegations to the Dialogue, which included a visit to the United States Supreme Court and nongovernmental and media organizations. Rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, labor rights, and other human rights issues of concern were discussed during the two-day event. The Human Rights Dialogue is an important mechanism to reinforce the messages, including on specific cases, that the United States delivers consistently and at the highest levels on these issues.
Interview Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State Jerusalem July 17, 2012
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Let’s start with your trip to Egypt. It wasn’t a very warm welcome by a lot of Egyptians. There were very nasty protests, protesters throwing shoes. In your meetings with Christian leaders, a lot of uncertainty about U.S. policy, it doesn’t seem very popular. They feel that you’re siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Elise, there’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in Egypt right now. They’re doing something they’ve never done in 5,000-plus years of history. They have had elections. They’ve elected a president, but they still don’t have a government. They don’t know what the platform is going to be. They’re not sure of the legal standing of some of their new institutions. And there are understandable concerns by many, many Egyptians. I don’t think that’s at all unusual.
But what I was looking for was a chance to hear directly from people, and I knew very well there’d be a lot of passion and conviction expressed, which I think demonstrates how invested Egyptians are in trying to make sure their democratic transition works out for the benefit of all the Egyptians – men and women, Muslim and Christian, everybody. MORE.
Continued Imprisonment of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and Repression of Minorities in Iran
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
July 9, 2012
We note that July 8 marked 1,000 days Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison. Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately.
Unfortunately, Pastor Nadarkhani is not alone in his suffering. The Iranian regime continues to deny and abuse the human rights of its citizens, in particular those of its many ethnic and religious minorities. We are troubled by reports of the execution of four members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab community, whose sentences were carried out with little due process. In March 2012, Iranian state media broadcast the forced confession of one of those executed.
We are also concerned by credible reports that prominent author Mohammad Soleimani Nia is missing following his release in May after five months in prison on unspecified charges.
We call upon Iranian authorities to respect and protect the freedoms and dignity of all its citizens, and to uphold its own laws and international obligations which guarantee such rights to all Iranians, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.