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ICC Note: In conjunction with the US State Department’s 2016 International Religious Freedom Report, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken out to condemn global religious persecution. He specifically denounced ISIS and their assault on Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims throughout the Middle East. He also noted that the US would continue to prioritize protecting religious freedom around the world.

By Joseph Hartropp

08/16/2017 United States (Christian Today) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has condemned the prevalence of religious persecution across the world, alongside the release of the state department’s 2016 International Religious Freedom Report.

Not only is religious freedom an imperative of American values, Tiilerson said, but a global failure to protect it ‘breeds instability, terrorism, and violence’.

The spectre of the Islamist threat of ISIS was underlined by Tillerson. He wrote in his preface to the International Religious Freedom Report 2016: ‘ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death. ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled.

‘ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities. The protection of these groups – and others who are targets of violent extremism – remains a human rights priority for the Trump Administration.’

The annual report is the state department’s first since President Trump took office.

In yesterday’s remarks on the report, Tillerson reflected: ‘Almost 20 years after the law’s passage, conditions in many parts of the world are far from ideal. Religious persecution and intolerance remains far too prevalent. Almost 80 percent of the global population live with restrictions on or hostilities to limit their freedom of religion. Where religious freedom is not protected, we know that instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root.’

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