Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bush Administration Fails To Follow Law Requiring Action Against Saudi Religious Freedom Vioations

Last September, the Bush administration designated Saudi Arabia a “country of particular concern” for “severe religious freedom violations” pursuant to International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA).

At the time, the action was applauded -- especially given the close ties between the Bush family and the Saudi leadership. But a year later, there's growing concern that the designation was an empty action.

Why? Because under the IRFA, the administration is required to “take action to oppose religious freedom violations” in Saudi Arabia within 90 days of making the designation. There are 15 potential actions the IRFA allows. But almost a year after the designation was made, the Bush administration, by its own admission, has not taken any additional action.

At an Aug. 9 press briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli could only quip when asked about the delay:

QUESTION: Speaking of reform, about five months have passed since the deadline concerning a U.S. response to the finding that Saudi Arabia is a Country of Particular Concern because of restrictions on religious freedom. I suppose that we're going to have to wait a little longer to find out what the conclusion of your deliberations is.

ERELI: At least long enough for me to find an answer to the question.

***

Why was the designation, and subsequent action, needed?

The federally funded U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom "has been recommending that Saudi Arabia be designated a CPC since the Commission was formed in 1999. This has been based not only on the Saudi government’s violations of religious freedom within its own borders, but also based on reports of its propagation and export of an ideology of religious hate and intolerance throughout the world,” said Commission Chair Preeta D. Bansal.

Other nations with the same designation: Burma, China, Iran, North Korea and Sudan.

***

The administration had been pushed last year, in part, by a Senate resolution introduced by Susan Collins (R-ME) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) in August, 2004.

Perhaps it's time for those two to lead the Senate in a new resolution -- demanding that the Bush Administration follow the law.

Of course, the Bush Administration could indefinitely delay the required action. The Commission, after all, expires in 2011.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't exporting of an ideology of religious hatred responsible for fueling extremists and terrorist groups?
Here again, as the case with the underfunding of homeland security, the Bush Administration is not held accountable in the MSM for its representations that it is tough on terrorism. Don't Americans care whether their president is being held to task for protecting them against terrorism?
Of course, the Bush Administration I and II is in bed with the Saudis. Oh excuse me. The Right dominated MSM will say I'm ignorant to make such a claim and that I must be a Michael Moore fan.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservatives look at a story like this and the first words in their heads are MICHAEL MOORE.

Facts? You can keep your stinkin' facts.

10:16 AM  

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