U.S. adds Saudi Arabia to list of ‘countries of concern’


Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom today welcomed the U.S. State Department’s designation of Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Eritrea to its list of "countries of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Other countries on the list are Burma, China, Iran, North Korea and Sudan.

Center Director Nina Shea said: “The addition of Saudi Arabia for the first time to the State Department's short-list of egregious religious persecutors marks a new day in the world struggle against extreme religious intolerance. This intolerance is the ideology that undergirds Islamic terror.”

Shea said the government of Saudi Arabia “has been responsible for the proliferation worldwide of an extreme Wahhabi interpretation of Islam” for decades. This interpretation of Islam, she said, fosters “virulent hatred, alienation and even violence toward Christians, Jews and other religious believers, including moderate Muslims.”

The center’s director said Saudi efforts have even begun to radicalize Muslim communities far beyond the Arabian Peninsula,” including in Northern Nigeria, Indonesia and Central Asia.

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