New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Password:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:
 
 
Way In

And justice for some?

Religious freedom is a key part of the US constitution. Understandably then, the country is also officially interested in the rights of peoples around the world to practice their faith without prejudice.

To that end, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom exists to 'assess, propose and press for US foreign policy action to advance freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and other freedoms'. It has a watchlist of countries which it monitors for any persecution.

In Venezuela, for example, it is concerned that  the 'president's socialist agenda' is forcing Jews to leave the country. In Cuba, it says, 'the potential influence of religious organizations is perceived by state authorities as a threat to the revolution.' And Obama's administration is reminded that religious freedoms in China, as part of human rights, are a 'vital US interest'.
All true, we're sure.  But what of the claims by former commissioners that if the Commission were looking for prejudice it should start within its own organisation?

'It was predetermined who the bad guys are' says Khaled Abou El Fadl, who served as a commissioner from 2003 to 2007. 'There is a very pronounced view of the world, and it is that victims of religious discrimination are invariably Christian.'

'When anti-Muslim violence is mentioned, it's usually because staff forces it,' said Brigit Kustin, a researcher. Kustin resigned last summer following the cancellation of the contract of a fellow worker, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad. The commission's six researchers signed a letter unsuccessfully urging their bosses to keep Ghori-Ahmad, who alleges that she lost her employment because of her faith and her affiliation with a Muslim advocacy group.

The Commission denies the allegation. 'I don't know of any other organization who defends as many Muslims in the world as we do,' says its chairman Leonard Leo, who was appointed to the commission by President Bush in 2007. An equal employment case is pending.