WASHINGTON – The United States on Monday denounced what it called a rising tide of both anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment around the world as it urged all nations to ensure freedom of religion.
In a wide-ranging annual report on religious freedom, the State Department voiced alarm at growing attacks against minority groups and painted a bleak picture in nations such as China, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Ira Forman, who served as President Barack Obama’s campaign outreach director to Jewish voters, to fill the State Department position of special envoy to combat anti-Semitism.
The State Department report, which covered 2012, said that “anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions were clearly on the rise — particularly in Europe and Asia.”
“Government restrictions, which often coincided with societal animosity, resulted in anti-Muslim actions that affected everyday life for numerous believers,” it said.
The report sharply criticized the record of Myanmar, also known as Burma, on the same day that President Thein Sein met with Obama in a sign of U.S. support for the former general’s democratic reforms.
“On Burma, we didn’t see any improvement in religious freedom,” said Suzan Johnson Cook, the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, using Myanmar’s former name.