USCIRFUnited States Commission on International Religious Freedom (est. 1998)
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A 2018 USCIRF report said Baha'is are "the most severely persecuted religious minority in Iran, not recognized by the state, and denied their political, economic, cultural, and religious rights." It added that in the previous decade, more than 1,000 Baha'is had been arbitrarily detained.
Corroborating the escalating communal and ethnic tensions in India, the USCIRF report comes at a time when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a pronounced Hindutvaline, has come back to power after securing an emphatic victory in the 2019 general elections.
The USCIRF noted that in February last year, the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, reported to parliament that 111 people were murdered and 2,384 injured in 822 communal clashes during 2017 (as compared to 86 people killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents the previous year).
Being placed on Tier 1 of the USCIRF listing, essentially being dubbed the worst violators of religious freedom, does have serious implications.
In a statement, Oman Human Rights Commission (OHRC) highlighted the fact, saying, 'The annual report issued this week by USCIRF confirms that the sultanate is free of any reference to violations of religious freedom.'
In its 2019 report, the USCIRF designated 16 countries as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC), including China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and Syria.
In 2018, USCIRF designated Sudan as a "country of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for engaging in systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.
"Hagia Sophia bears profound historical and spiritual significance to Muslims and Christians alike, and its status as a museum must be maintained," USCIRF Chair said in a statement
Shaikh Al-Asfoor informed the USCIRF delegation about the Jaffari Endowments' initiatives, and presented them with a number of its publications and books.
Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) tracks blasphemy laws around the world, noting what types of penalties are applied.
This designation was made in the 2018 annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).