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TAKING LIBERTIES

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Tuesday of growing religious intolerance in Arab nations that overthrew autocratic governments this year.

She urged those countries not to “trade one form of repression for another,” as she released the State Department annual International Religious Freedom Report.

“In the Middle East and North Africa, the transitions to democracy have inspired the world, but they have also exposed ethnic and religious minorities to new dangers,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Some religious freedom activists Tuesday expressed disappointment over the State Department report failing to include more countries on a watch list of nations accused of violating religious liberties.

“Repeating the current list continues glaring omissions, such as Pakistan and Vietnam,” said Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The commission earlier this year urged the State Department to include those two nations along with Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria and Turkmenistan on the list of “countries of particular concern.”

Nations on that watch list could face U.S. sanctions if they refuse to remove legal restrictions on religious freedom or fail to protect religious minorities.

The current State Department list includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Mr. Leo said the commission, nevertheless, “commends” Suzan Johnson Cook, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and her staff for the extensive annual review of religious liberties in 198 countries.

PALESTINIAN TOLERANCE

The Palestinian envoy in Washington assured reporters on Tuesday that a new Palestinian state would be a secular nation tolerant of minorities - except Jews and homosexuals.

Maen Areikat, the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told John McCormack of the Weekly Standard that a Palestinian nation would be a “secular state.”

“We’re not going to base it on religion,” he insisted.

The reporter asked Mr. Areikat whether a Palestinian state would tolerate minorities.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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