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Kerry decries persecution of Christians by Boko Haram, Islamic State

Catholic World News - July 30, 2014

The US State Department issued its annual International Religious Freedom Report and named Turkmenistan its 9th “country of particular concern” because of egregious governmental repression of religious liberty.

“North Korea again stood out for its absolute prohibition of religious organizations and harsh punishments for any unauthorized religious activities,” the report stated. “Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan put severe restrictions on members of religious groups that did not conform to the state-approved religion(s) while in China, Cuba, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, religious activity was only lawful if explicitly authorized by the state.”

In his remarks introducing the report, Secretary of State John Kerry decried religious persecution around the world and noted colonial America’s own checkered history.

“In Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed more than 1,000 people over the last year alone, and that includes Christian and Muslim religious leaders, individuals who were near – near – churches and mosques, worshipers, and bystanders alike,” he said. “And we have all seen the savagery and incredible brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – the wholesale slaughter of Shia Muslims, the forced conversions of Christians in Mosul, the rape, executions, and use of women and children as human shields.”

“One hundred years after the pilgrims set sail for religious freedom, a Catholic woman was executed on the Boston Common for the crime of praying her rosary,” he added. “So we approach this issue – I certainly do – very mindful of our past and of how as Americans we have at times had to push and work and struggle to live up fully to the promise of our own founding.”

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