Latest International Religious Freedom Report Shows No Progress Has Been Made in the Post Arab Spring Middle East and North Africa Region, and Anti-Semitism on the Rise, Says Ros-Lehtinen

May 23, 2013

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee (MENA), released the following statement on the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2012. Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“The State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 highlights some very disturbing trends in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Perhaps the most disturbing trend from this report is the continued rise in anti-Semitism, not just in the MENA regions, but worldwide. Holocaust denial and glorification are not only condoned, but have become common practice by government officials, religious leaders and the media in these countries, most notably Egypt and Iran.

“Sadly, this report comes as no surprise, as we have witnessed blatant discrimination against various religious minorities throughout that region, particularly against Jews and Christians. In Egypt, Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood cronies systematically target religious minorities, most notably the Coptic Christians, and repeatedly recite prayers that call for the destruction of Jews and their supporters, while Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government continue to deny the Holocaust occurred and blame the ‘Zionists’ for all of the world’s ills.

“Saudi Arabia is once again a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ as the government there continues its discriminatory policies and practices against Jews, Christians, Shiites and any other religious minority, and there has been no substantial progress for religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, even in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

“I continue to urge the Administration to implement proper sanctions on countries that continue to egregiously violate the religious rights and freedoms of their people, and to also reevaluate our foreign assistance to these nations, leveraging our money to promote real reforms.”