102 episodes

Welcome to a new weekly podcast series called “USCIRF Spotlight” hosted by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body. During each episode, Director of Outreach and Policy Dwight Bashir features a special guest to dive deeper on various topics and breaking developments that impact the universal right to freedom of religion or belief around the globe.

USCIRF Spotlight Podcast USCIRF

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    • 5.0 • 13 Ratings

Welcome to a new weekly podcast series called “USCIRF Spotlight” hosted by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body. During each episode, Director of Outreach and Policy Dwight Bashir features a special guest to dive deeper on various topics and breaking developments that impact the universal right to freedom of religion or belief around the globe.

    USCIRF’s FoRB Victims List: Background and 2022 Updates

    USCIRF’s FoRB Victims List: Background and 2022 Updates

    In 2016, Congress passed the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act which mandated that USCIRF maintain a list of individuals targeted for their religion or belief. In 2019, USCIRF launched its Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Victims List – an online database that catalogues persons detained, imprisoned, placed under house arrest, disappeared, forced to renounce their faith, and tortured for their religious belief, religious activity, and religious freedom advocacy. Since then, the FoRB Victims List has documented almost 2,000 victims with that number unfortunately continuing to grow.USCIRF Researcher, Dylan Schexnaydre, joins Research Analyst, Zack Udin, to discuss the database’s background, recent upgrades, and data for 2022.Read USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Factsheet (https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2022-12/2022%20Factsheet%20-%20FoRB%20Victims%20List.pdf)View USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief Victims List (https://www.uscirf.gov/victims-list/) or complete the Victims List Intake Form (https://www.uscirf.gov/form/uscirf-victims-list-intake-form). With Contributions from:Dylan Schexnaydre, Researcher, USCIRFZachary Udin, Research Analyst, USCIRFVeronica McCarthy, Public Affairs Associate, USCIRF

    • 13 min
    State Favored Religions’ Impact on Religious Freedom

    State Favored Religions’ Impact on Religious Freedom

    Governments around the world use many different strategies to control or repress religion, but a common tactic is for the state to elevate a particular religion to a special status in ways that can marginalize different faiths or belief systems. USCIRF’s recently released report, “A Global Overview of Official and Favored Religions and Global Implications for Religious Freedom,” looks at 78 countries that identify an official or favored religion and subsequently enforce that religion, or a particular interpretation of that religion, through the law. While several countries that maintain these relevant laws do not enforce them or even have a legal framework to enforce them, some countries take these laws seriously and are, in fact, some of the worst violators of freedom of religion or belief. Kurt Werthmuller, Supervisory Policy Analyst and author of this report, joins us today to discuss the findings of this report.Read the full report on “A Global Overview of Official and Favored Religions and Global Implications for Religious Freedom” (https://www.uscirf.gov/publications/implications-laws-promoting-state-favored-religions)With Contributions from:Kurt Wertmuller, Supervisory Policy Analyst, USCIRFJamie Staley, Supervisory Policy Advisor, USCIRFVeronica McCarthy, Public Affairs Associate, USCIRF

    • 22 min
    Differences Between Religious Tolerance and Religious Freedom

    Differences Between Religious Tolerance and Religious Freedom

    Authoritarian states promote religious tolerance without necessarily ensuring freedom of religion or belief. Last month, USCIRF released a report distinguishing between these two concepts and explains the origins of religious tolerance promotion as a tool of statecraft. The report presents case studies of countries engaged in religious tolerance promotion, such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Dr. David Warren, the author of the report and lecturer in the Department of Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, join us to today to discuss the important findings and ways the U.S. government can utilize discussions of religious tolerance to set a groundwork for broader rights protections.Read the full report on “Tolerance, Religious Freedom, and Authoritarianism (https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2022-12/2022%20Religious%20Freedom%20Tolerance%20Report.pdf)”With Contributions from:Scott Weiner, Supervisory Policy Analyst, USCIRFVeronica McCarthy, Public Affairs Associate, USCIRF

    • 22 min
    Breaking Down the State Department’s IRF Designations

    Breaking Down the State Department’s IRF Designations

    Pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the U.S. Department of State designates Countries of Particular Concern, places countries on its Special Watch List, and designates Entities of Particular Concern. As part of this mandate, USCIRF makes recommendations to the administration, including the State Department, regarding which countries and entities deserve designation on these three lists based on systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.On today’s 100th episode of the USCIRF Spotlight Podcast, USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel joins us to discuss the State Department’s most recent designations and assess how they match up with USCIRF’s recommendations.With Contributions from:Nury Turkel, Chair, USCIRFElizabeth Cassidy, Director of Research & Policy, USCIRFVeronica McCarthy, Public Affairs Associate, USCIRF

    • 16 min
    Reflecting on USCIRF’s Visit to Cox’s Bazar

    Reflecting on USCIRF’s Visit to Cox’s Bazar

    In November 2022, USCIRF visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, to assess the current conditions and issues that Burmese Rohingya refugees are facing. The Rohingya community, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority from Burma, have long fled religious persecution to neighboring Bangladesh. However, the most recent waves of refugees came in August 2017 following wide-scale atrocities that the Burmese authorities and military, known as the Tatmadaw, committed against them. These atrocities forced over a million Rohingya to flee the country, with a majority now temporarily residing in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In March 2022, the Biden administration designated these atrocities as genocide and crimes against humanity, which USCIRF had been calling for since 2017.USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck, who led this delegation, joins us today to discuss his first-hand account of the Rohingya’s current conditions at the Bangladeshi refugee camps. On this trip, the delegation met with refugees, international organization officials, and members of the government of Bangladesh.With Contributions from:Stephen Schneck, Commissioner, USCIRFElizabeth Cassidy, Director of Research & Policy, USCIRFVeronica McCarthy, Public Affairs Associate, USCIRF

    • 26 min
    Preview of the IRF Summit 2023

    Preview of the IRF Summit 2023

    The third annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit will be held in Washington, DC on January 31-February 1, 2023. The IRF Summit is an annual civil society conference that seeks to create a coalition of organizations to work together to advance international religious freedom, raise public awareness about IRF issues, and increase the political strength of the IRF movement. This year’s IRF Summit will coincide with the National Prayer Breakfast and highlight four distinctive tracks: defending, documenting, developing, and denying. The defending track will focus on the legal, justice, and accountability aspects of freedom of religion or belief; the documenting track will highlight the importance of journalism and gathering evidence; the developing track will examine and develop advocacy efforts and highlight country-level achievements; lastly, the denying track will highlight victims who have been persecuted on the basis of their religion or belief. Peter Burns, Executive Director of the IRF Summit since its inception in 2021, joins us today to provide some insight into the upcoming IRF Summit. With Contributions from:Elizabeth Cassidy, Director of Research & Policy, USCIRFVeronica McCarthy, Public Affairs Associate, USCIRF

    • 29 min

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