Friday, 23 March 2012

Turkey Flays US Report On Religious Freedom

Turkey has taken umbrage at a U.S. report on religious freedom that listed the country among the world's worst violators of religious freedoms and said it treats the document as "null and void."

In a statement on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the report, prepared by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), failed to acknowledge steps Turkey had taken in recent years to protect religious freedoms and minority rights.

"No impartial observer could take allegations in this report, which intentionally turns a blind eye to the steps forward and the political will that has constituted the basis for the reforms, seriously," the statement said, adding that "this report is null and void for us."

The report grouped Turkey among 15 other nations in its "countries of particular concern" category for "systematic and egregious limitations" of religious freedoms. The ranking was a sharp downgrade from Turkey's less-severe status as a watch-listed country in years past.

The report also listed Tajikistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam in its "countries of particular concern" category.

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