Page 7

For example, according to the report section on Egypt, Presifor investigating Israel, he said. dent Abdel Fattah el-Sisi “consistently has made noteworthy public Joining Zogby was the Rev. Aundreia Alexander, associate genstatements and gestures encouraging religious tolerance and moderal secretary of the National Council of Churches; the Rev. Wesley eration, has condemned sectarian attacks and assisted victims, and Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary emeritus of the Reformed has urged reform of textbooks and religious Church in America; and the Rev. Drew Chrisdiscourse in society, an important shift in tiansen of Georgetown University’s Berkley tone and rhetoric from his predecessors.” Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs. Still, Egypt and Iraq are on USCIRF’s list Reese said many groups and people, of “Tier 2” countries, which are considered including Zogby, propose that USCIRF launch violators of religious freedom, but not as investigations, but without a majority vote of problematic as the CPCs. the commission, those investigations don’t On the same day of the report’s rego forward. lease, one commissioner, Arab-American “Jim proposed it but he didn’t get a maand Democratic Party activist James Zogby, jority,” said Reese, who added that USCIRF held a news conference to discuss his disreports often include dissents. sent to the report, in which he criticizes the The USCIRF is not formally part of any commission’s refusal to investigate Israel. branch of the federal government. Created Zogby, flanked by sympathetic Chrisby Congress in 1998, the agency has nine tians in a Lutheran church on Capitol Hill, commissioners (appointed by the president said Israel discriminates against Muslims, and the Congressional leadership of both Christians and non-Orthodox Jews but gets parties) and more than a dozen full-time staff a free pass from the commission. members. Each commissioner is appointed “I did not look for this issue, it came to us,” for a two-year term but can be re-appointed. said Zogby, who cited a lengthy study from young lawyers in the West Bank — occupied by Israel — that concluded that Israel fails By Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service, to meet international standards on religious Tom Reese with BJC Staff Reports freedom on which other nations are judged. USCIRF chair Other commissioners, Zogby said, were "bullied” to oppose an investigation. Those petitioning for an investigation were often dismissed as anti-Semites and some commissioners feared the commission would lose congressional support USCIRF says the following should be designated

Globally, “the commission has concluded that the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations.”

“countries of particular concern”

2017 USCIRF Annual Report

Countries in italics are currently on the State Department’s CPC list

Burma Central African Republic China Eritrea Iran Nigeria North Korea Pakistan Russia Saudi Arabia Sudan Syria Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan Vietnam

MAY / JUNE 2017 ■ REPORT FROM THE CAPITAL

7

Report from the Capital: May/June 2017  

Learn how people of faith are responding to those who would politicize pulpits. BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler reviews President Trump’...

Report from the Capital: May/June 2017  

Learn how people of faith are responding to those who would politicize pulpits. BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler reviews President Trump’...