US religious freedom report shows ‘no progress’ in Myanmar

Displaced Kachin residents cross the Malikha river on 26 April to escape the fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar government troops. (Photo: ZAU RING HPARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Iran are among the countries criticised for their religious-freedom records in the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2017, launched yesterday (29 May) in Washington DC. The report references the violence against the predominantly Muslim Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar, whose situation is still . . . Read More

Religious freedom reduces terrorism, says US ambassador Brownback

Sam Brownback was confirmed as Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom in January.
If countries want less terrorism within their borders, they should give religious freedom to their people, says US religious freedom ambassador Sam Brownback. During a policy hearing in Washington DC on Wednesday (9 May), he said one country that had been a “bad actor” for a long time was now . . . Read More

Saudi Arabia told: ‘Christians are not second-class citizens’

There are no churches in Saudi Arabia and Christians have to meet in secret. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
A senior Vatican official told Saudi officials during a visit last week that Christians must not be treated as second-class citizens. “During my meetings, I insisted very much on this point, that Christians and non-Muslims are spoken of well in schools and that they are never considered second-class citizens,” the . . . Read More

Saudi school textbooks still ‘promote hatred toward religious minorities’ – USCIRF

A school complex in Medina, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Ikhlasul Amal via Flickr; CC 2.0)
School textbooks in Saudi Arabia still include content “promoting violence and hatred toward religious minorities and others”, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Even though the Saudi government has been “engaged in textbook reform for the last 15 years”, a new study by USCIRF found . . . Read More

Saudi Arabia to ban ‘extremist ideologies’ from schools and universities

Sign portraying Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who wants to be known as a reformist, in the capital Riyad. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
Saudi Arabia has pledged to ban the “extremist ideologies” espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood from school curricula and books, and to dismiss staff who support the group’s views. In a statement released on Tuesday (20 March), the Minister of Education, Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Isa, said the ministry is working to . . . Read More

Saudi Arabia is modernising, but will this mean greater freedom for religious minorities?

Saudi Arabia is modernising, but will this mean greater freedom for religious minorities?
The political landscape in the strict Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is changing, and quickly. A charismatic crown prince seems determined to modernise his country and even speaks of a shift towards a more “moderate” Islam. But will the changes taking place in Saudi also ease the situation for members . . . Read More

Malaysia’s reputation as moderate Muslim nation hangs by a thread

Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is seen by most Western countries as one of the moderate Muslim nations, an ally to be cultivated and befriended in the battle against militant Islam. The country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was among one of the leaders to visit US President Donald Trump in his first year of . . . Read More