WASHINGTON - Muslims around the world, particularly in Europe and Asia, are facing rising hostility and violence, amid restrictions on their right to wear religious outfits, a US report has found.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions were clearly on the rise -- particularly in Europe and Asia, said the International Religious Freedom Report cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).Government restrictions, which often coincided with societal animosity, resulted in anti-Muslim actions that affected everyday life for numerous believers.
The report, released by Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, May 20, sheds light on restrictions facing Muslims and other religious minorities around the world.
"This report shines light on the challenges people face as they seek nothing more than basic religious freedom and the right to worship as they wish," Kerry said.
"And its release is a demonstration of the abiding commitment of the American people and the entire US government to the advancement of freedom of religion worldwide."
US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook said Muslims in Asia and Europe were facing rising hostility.
"Anti-Muslim sentiment and discrimination are evident in places as diverse as Europe and Asia," she said.
"We call on societies and governments to foster tolerance and hold perpetrators of violence accountable."
The report specifically mentioned Burma (Myanmar) in which "Muslims in Rakhine State, particularly those of the Rohingya minority group, continued to be subjected to lethal violence and to experience severe forms of legal, economic, educational, and social discrimination."
The report, which covers the year 2012, also referred to new restrictions on Muslim religious attire and discrimination Muslim women face in particular.
"The impact ranged from education, to employment, to personal safety within communities, the annual report said.
Government restrictions on religious attire also remained an issue, as Muslim women faced increasing restrictions on head coverings in schools, in public sector employment, and in public spaces.
The report's findings have won plaudits from a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US.
"We welcome the recognition by State Department officials that anti-Muslim rhetoric is on the rise worldwide," Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a press release obtained by OnIslam.net.
"People of all faiths and backgrounds must work together to promote mutual understanding and to challenge the increasing hatred we see in many parts of the world."
The Muslim leader said protection of minority communities and their rights is a religious obligation in Islam.
"We hope there will now be serious effort by the Department of State to challenge the dangerous phenomenon of Islamophobia," said Awad.
Anti-Muslim sentiments have been on the rise in several Western countries.
In the US, hostility has been rising against Muslims since plans were unveiled to build a mosque near the 9/11 site.
In Britain, far-right groups as the English Defense League and the British National Party (BNP) use immigration problems to stoke sentiment against Muslims.
In Germany, hostile sentiments against Muslims have grown, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.
In Sri Lanka, Muslim has been thrown into tension following a string of serious incidents involving extremist Buddhist provocations against Muslims.
The case for Burmese Muslims was not any way better.
In April, more than 43 people were killed in a new bout of anti-Muslim violence in central Burma.Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have also been displaced from their homes in western Burma last year after a deadly wave of sectarian violence with the Buddhist majority.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net