US panel cites religious persecution in Pakistan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says Pakistan has become one of the world's worst persecutors.

In its annual report, the commission recommends that Pakistan be labeled a "country of particular concern" by the U.S. government, joining a list of nations were "severe violations of religious freedom are tolerated or perpetrated."

Countries currently on the list include China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Iran.

Commission chair Robert George says Pakistani religious minorities are persecuted, churches are attacked with impunity and dozens of people face execution or life in prison for violating blasphemy laws.

The report also recommends that Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Vietnam, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan be labeled countries of particular concern, subject to possible U.S. sanctions. George says such nations "provide fertile ground for war and poverty and violent religious extremism."

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278-w-31-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with Robert George, chairman, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom)--The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says Pakistan has become one of the world's worst persecutors and should be added to a list that includes North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (30 Apr 2014)

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281-a-09-(Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in telephone news conference)-"perpetrators to justice"-Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says Pakistan both perpetrates and tolerates persecution. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (30 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *281 (04/30/14)££ 00:09 "perpetrators to justice"

282-a-13-(Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in telephone news conference)-"all of us"-Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says persecution is both a moral and a practical issue. (30 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *282 (04/30/14)££ 00:13 "all of us"

280-a-09-(Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in telephone news conference)-"violating blasphemy laws"-Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says its annual report cites the world's worst violators. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (30 Apr 2014)

<<CUT *280 (04/30/14)££ 00:09 "violating blasphemy laws"

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