“The bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which grouped Turkey among 15 other nations in its ‘countries of particular concern’ category for its ‘systematic and egregious limitations’ of religious freedoms, has been divided over the decision,” Today’s Zaman reports.
By Ali H. Aslan
3/21/2012 Turkey (Today’s Zaman) – The bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which grouped Turkey among 15 other nations in its “countries of particular concern” category for its “systematic and egregious limitations” of religious freedoms, has been divided over the decision, with their report monitoring religious freedom around the world being passed by five to four votes.
The ranking was a sharp downgrade from Turkey’s less-severe status as a watch-listed country in years past, and the commission recommended the US government categorize Turkey with other “countries of particular concern” which, according to the list, are Tajikistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
The supporters of the report stressed the situation of the Christian minorities in Turkey, saying that Turkey presents itself as a model country for the Arab Spring but it cannot be a model as far as religious freedoms are concerned. The commission members added that they have waited for 10 years for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to make a difference but that they can no longer sit and wait.