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Asian countries worst offenders on religious freedom

In a report on religious freedom throughout the world, the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has found that the most repressive governments are located in Asia.

The ACN report cites Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Laos as the world's worst offenders, according to an AsiaNews preview cited by Catholic World News.

It says Saudi Arabia is "at the bottom of the world ranking as far as freedom of worship is concerned". While Shiite Muslims enjoy a degree of freedom, "railing against Christians and Jews" in Mosques continues to be widespread. The report blames "many well-known imams, including those in the great mosque at Mecca".

Aid to the Church in Need presented the 6th edition of its annual Report on Religious Freedom at a press conference at the Foreign Press Centre in Rome on Friday. An ACN-Italy press release said the main objective of the report "is to give voice to those who have no voice, because they are the victims of violations, abuse and violence linked to religious freedom issues."

The report denounces violations of the right to worship freely in 2003, "a particularly difficult year for the international community, badly shaken by the war in Iraq."

It also mentions serious violations of religious freedom in China (where the government seeks to control religious bodies) and Georgia (where Orthodox extremist groups intimidate religious minorities).

It also highlights the situation in India (where Hindu militants have assaulted Christians and Muslims), and Iraq (where Islamic extremism has "increased unbelievably" since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Burma, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam are also mentioned.

Religious freedom, the more repressive governments are in Asia ( 25/6/04)
Aid to the Church in Need to present Report on Religious Freedom (Aid to the Church in Need 24/6/04)
Asian countries worst offenders on religious freedom (Catholic World News 25/6/04)

Aid to the Church in Need
Aid to the Church in Need (International)

28 Jun 2004