The canary in the coalmine . . . .

The 2011 report US on International Religious Freedom has painted a dark picture of religious freedom in Iran. Issued annually since 2001, the report analyses the status of religious freedom around the world, examining progress or regression in every nation outside the US.

Published in August 2012, the report said: “Baha’i and Christian groups reported arbitrary arrests, prolonged detentions, and confiscation of property. During the year, government-controlled broadcast and print media intensified negative campaigns against religious minorities, particularly Baha’is.

“All religious minorities suffered varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and housing. Baha’is continued to experience expulsions from, or denial of admission to, universities.”

It added that Government rhetoric and actions created a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shia religious groups, most notably for Baha’is, as well as for Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, and Shia groups that did not share the government’s official religious views.

Suzan Johnson Cook, the US Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, said that freedom of religion is the right of all people. She said: “It goes hand in hand with freedom of expression, freedom of speech and assembly, and when religious freedom is restricted, all these rights are at risk. And for this reason, religious freedom is often the bellwether for other human rights. It’s the canary in the coalmine.”

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