US adds Russia, China and 8 others to religious freedom blacklist | World News

The United States on Monday added Russia to a blacklist of countries singled out for “egregious violations of religious freedom,” the State Department said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that he was designating Russia, as well as China and eight other states, as countries of concern “for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.'”

Nigeria, which was on the list last year and where Blinken is due to visit this week, was removed.

The other countries still on the US list for “religious freedom violations” are Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Algeria, Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua were placed on a watch list.

“The United States will not waiver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country,” Blinken said.

“In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.”

Blinken on Wednesday began a three-nation tour of Africa, warning of rising threats to democracy on the continent.

His visit began in Kenya and will also include Senegal, as he stresses a new US commitment to Africa.

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