ISIS among greatest threats to religious freedom, State says

ISIS among greatest threats to religious freedom, State says
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Islamic extremists, terrorist groups and rebel organizations are contributing to the daunting challenges for religious freedom around the world, the State Department said in a new report issued on Wednesday.

The government’s analysis gave special blame to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose brutal regime of institutionalized rapes, murders and slavery has targeted anyone not conforming to its narrow and extreme version of Islam. 


In other parts of the world, various militias and violent groups have cracked down on religious freedom, whether it’s the extremist group Boko Haram’s rampages through Western Africa or the Pakistani Taliban.

“One of the more consequential facts of our era has been the convergence — really the development of a new phenomenon of non-state actors who, unlike the last century and the violence that we saw and persecution that we saw that emanated from states, are now the principal persecutors and preventers of religious tolerance and practice,” Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryClimate policies propel a growing dysfunction of Western democracies Kerry calls out countries that need to 'step up' on climate change Those on the front lines of climate change should be empowered to be central to its solution MORE said in remarks releasing the report.

“Most prominent and most harmful, obviously, has been the rise of international terrorist groups such as Daesh, al Qaeda, al Shabaab, Boko Haram. All have been guilty of vicious acts of unprovoked violence,” he added. Daesh is an alternate acronym for ISIS based on the Arabic translation.

“Under their control, captives have been given a choice between conversion or slavery or death,” Kerry said. “Children have been among the victims and also among those forced to witness or participate in the executions, sometimes even of their own family members.”

The State Department’s report is issued annually, on orders from Congress.

Though the new report focused in large part on the role of non-governmental groups in limiting religious freedom, it also singled out a crackdown on religious minorities in Myanmar and made reference to policies in Iran, Russia, China and other countries.

Additionally, the administration made a point of criticizing U.S. allies such as France and Germany, which last summer “witnessed a wave of anti-Israel sentiments that crossed the line into anti-Semitism,” it said.