Europe cited in US religious freedoms report

Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:51pm GMT

* Report cites moves by France, Switzerland

* Worst offenders include North Korea, Iran, China

* Overall global picture described as mixed

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The United States voiced concern on Wednesday over deteriorating religious freedoms in many parts of the world, including several European countries where "harsh measures" limiting religious expression have been put in place.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the latest State Department report on global religious freedom, which rates countries around the world.

"Religious freedom is both a fundamental human right and an essential element to any stable, peaceful, thriving society," Clinton told a news conference

The report cited North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, China, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan among the worst offenders, repeating criticisms the United States makes almost every year.

But it also took note of countries such as France and Switzerland where voters and lawmakers have passed laws forbidding Muslim face veils and new mosque minarets.   Continued...

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