WASHINGTON, July 28, 2014 — The United States government reported today that millions of people were forced to leave their homes due to their religious beliefs around the globe last year.
The conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Central African Republic were among the areas of highest impact.
The State Department’s 2013 report on religious freedom showed that the Christian population in the Middle East is quickly disappearing with hundreds of thousands having left Syria over the past three years during the country’s civil war.
Christian-Muslim violence in the Central African Republic in 2013 was responsible for over one million people being forced from their homes.
The report highlighted the al-Qaida extremists who have killed both Shiite Muslims as well as Christians unless they converted.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that the report, which is released each year, showed that 75 percent of the world’s population lives in countries without religious freedom.
This year Turkmenistan joined Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan on the list of countries of particular concern for detaining and beating people for their religious beliefs and have barred people from wearing religious attire in public.
Kerry stated that North Korea continues to stand out for its “brutal repression” of religious minorities including arrests and detentions in prison camps for simply carrying a Bible.
The report also brought attention to the increasing anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim feelings that are on the increase throughout Europe.
According to the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, a survey found that in some countries in 2013, as many as 48 percent of local Jews had considered emigrating because of anti-Semitism.
Around the world, people continue to face discrimination, violence and abuse for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a God at all.
Regions where basic freedoms are suppressed create an environment that allows extremism and violence to grow.
The U.S. Department of State submits this report each year in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
The Associated Press contributed to this report