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US adds Saudi Arabia to list of states that violate religious freedom

Flag of Saudi Arabia waves in front of the Saudi consulate as the waiting continues on the investigation of killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey on 6 November, 2018 [Elif Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]
Flag of Saudi Arabia waves in front of the Saudi consulate on 6 November 2018 [Elif Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]

The United States has designated Saudi Arabia along with nine other countries as states of "particular concern" due to violations of religious freedoms, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.

"Today the U.S. designates Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for engaging systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations," Pompeo said on Twitter, stressing that religious freedom is a basic human right and that Washington has taken new steps to protect this basic right.

"The U.S. is unwavering in its commitment to religious freedom. No country or entity should be allowed to persecute people with impunity because of their beliefs. These annual designations show that when religious freedom is attacked, we will act." he added in a separate tweet.

The US official pointed out that the positive developments in the field of religious rights in Sudan and Uzbekistan have prompted Washington to remove them from the list.

READ: Saudi Arabia accuses Loujain Al-Hathloul of collaborating with enemy states

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