The U.S. State Department has released its annual global report on religious liberty, and Iran is ranked once again as one of the world's worst violators of a fundamental freedom.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained why the U.S. publishes such a report:
"The United States cares about religious freedom. We have worked hard to enforce religious freedom. We want to see religious freedom available universally. And we want to advocate for the brave men and women who around the world persist in practicing their beliefs in the face of hostility and violence."
In Iran, that hostility and violence are profound. Members of Iran's minority religions, especially Baha'is, are targeted. Since January 2010, 50 Baha'is have been arbitrarily arrested and scores remain in prison. Baha'i students are denied a university education. Baha'i burial grounds have been repeatedly desecrated; the 7 leaders of the Baha'i community in Iran have been convicted of national security crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The activities of Iran's Christians are also monitored by the government; churches have been closed, and Christian converts arrested. Jewish Iranians suffer from the virulently anti-Semitic campaign waged by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who questions the scope and existence of the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of Israel; Sufi Muslims are increasingly repressed and subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention and confiscation of property.
Iran has ratified both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The U.S. calls on Iranian leaders to live up to their international obligations, and allow Iranians to live and worship according to their beliefs without governmental abuse or interference.