Religious freedom commission recommends US monitor Venezuela, Cuba
Published: May 1, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A U.S. government commission has recommended that President Barack Obama's administration place Venezuela and Cuba among the countries that should be monitored closely for their violations of religious freedom. In its annual report, released May 1 in Washington, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also recommended that 13 countries -- including Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan -- be designated as "countries of particular concern." This designation is reserved for countries with the most egregious violations of religious freedom and for governments that tolerate such abuses. The commission, an independent body, makes its recommendations to the president, secretary of state and Congress. During the press conference to release the report, Talal Eid, an imam from Boston and a member of the commission, said Venezuela has steadily increased its tolerance of abuses against Catholics, Jews and U.S.-based Protestant groups in the country. Although there are no official restrictions against religious freedom, he said, the Venezuelan government's "strong rhetoric" and impunity have created a "hostile environment" for Catholic and Jewish citizens.
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