US China Pak

US Places China, Pak On List Of Religious Freedom Violators

The Biden administration has placed China, Pakistan, and 10 others on a list of countries that “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom” during 2022.

“Today, I am announcing designations against Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“I am also placing Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros, and Vietnam on the Special Watch List for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom,” he added.

The United States has also designated nine groups including the Taliban, and the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group, as “Entities of Particular Concern.”

“I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group based on its actions in the Central African Republic as Entities of Particular Concern,” he said.

Noting that governments and non-state actors harass and kill individuals on account of their beliefs, Blinken said the United States will not stand by in the face of these abuses.

“In some instances, they stifle individuals’ freedom of religion or belief to exploit opportunities for political gain. These actions sow division, undermine economic security, and threaten political stability and peace,” he said.

The US Secretary of State said the announcement of these designations is in keeping with US values and interests to protect national security and to advance human rights around the globe.

He said that the United States will continue to carefully monitor the status of freedom of religion or belief in every country around the world and advocate for those facing religious persecution or discrimination.

“We will also regularly engage countries about our concerns regarding limitations on freedom of religion or belief, regardless of whether those countries have been designated,” he added. (ANI)

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Haldwani Railway Land

Freedom Of Religion Doesn’t Include Fundamental Right To Convert Others To A Particular Religion: Centre To SC

The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that the right to freedom of religion does not include a fundamental right to convert other people to a particular religion.

It is “cognizant of the gravity and the seriousness” of the issue, said the Centre in its affidavit filed on a PIL claiming that fraudulent and deceitful religious conversion is rampant across the country.
Such issue of conversion shall be “taken up in all seriousness by the Union of India and appropriate steps shall be taken as the Central government is cognizant of the menace”, the Centre said in its affidavit.

“The right to freedom of religion certainly does not include the right to convert an individual through fraud, deception, coercion, allurement or other such means,” it said.

The central government further said that nine States over the course of the years passed enactments seeking to curb this practice. Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Haryana are the States which already have legislation in place on conversion, the affidavit added.

The affidavit stated that “such enactments are necessary for protecting cherished rights of vulnerable sections of the society including women and economically and socially backward classes.”

The right to freedom of religion, and more importantly, the right to the consciousness of all citizens of the country is an extremely cherished and valuable right that ought to be protected by the executive and the legislature, it said.

As the matter came up for hearing, a bench headed by Justice MR Shah said the issue of forced religious conversion is “very serious” and asked the Centre to file a detailed affidavit to make its stand clear.

It asked the Centre to file an affidavit with instructions from the State governments.

The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on December 5.

Earlier, the top court had remarked that forced religious conversion is a “very serious issue” and may affect the “security of the country” along with the freedom of conscience of citizens as far as religion is concerned.

It had said, “It is a very dangerous thing. Everyone has freedom of religion. What is this forceful conversion?”

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay claiming that fraudulent and deceitful religious conversion is rampant across the country, and that the Central government has failed to control its menace.

The plea sought directions to the Law Commission of India to prepare a report and a Bill to control “deceitful religious conversion”.

It further sought a declaration from the Court that fraudulent religious conversion and conversion by intimidation, threatening and through gifts and monetary benefits offends Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Indian Constitution.

The PIL said, “There is not even one district which is free of religious conversion by hook and cook and the carrot and the stick.”

“If such conversions were not checked, Hindus would soon become a minority in India. Thus, the Centre was obligated to enact a country-wide law for the same,” it added.

Earlier, the apex court had dismissed a similar petition filed by Upadhyay. (ANI)

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