India, China and Hong Kong are among countries which have hit back at the United States' International Religious Freedom Report.
The 2021 report, which was published in full this week, describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more than a million Uighurs and other religious minority groups had been detained after disagreeing with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) doctrine over the last five years.
Examples of church closures and the fleeing of religious leaders over the implementation of a new national security law in Hong Kong were also highlighted in the document. Hong Kong hit back at the report which highlighted the city's “shrinking space for civil society,” and reassured that human rights will be respected and protected in safeguarding national security.
The Indian government on Friday said the report was “unfortunate,” after it flagged rising violence against religious minorities in India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014.
A spokesperson for the Indian government said :
"As a naturally pluralistic society, India values religious freedom and human rights,” and in turn commented pointedly on the situation of minorities in the US, including “racially and ethnically motivated attacks, hate crimes and gun violence.”
Pakistan, Eritrea and Burma were also identified as places of concern.
Antony Blinken said :
"We know that when the fundamental right of each person to practice their faith is respected, people can make their fullest contributions to community successes and entire societies are better off."
Rashad Hussain, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, reiterated the importance of the report to “... give voice to countless individuals around the world who have been killed, beaten, threatened, harassed, or jailed for seeking to exercise their beliefs in accordance with the dictates of their conscience.”
International Christian Concern President Jeff King said :
"We welcome the State Department’s latest report and commend the progress made by several countries to protect religious freedom. However, we remain concerned by reports of increased violence and discrimination that Christians face globally. We urge the State Department to hold those responsible for these attacks accountable and look forward to working with U.S. authorities to ensure the right to religious freedom is protected for all.”