New Delhi: The governments of several countries, including India, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, are targeting people of religious communities, a top a US State Department report said.

The State Department released its annual report on international religious freedom that sheds light on the state of religious freedom in countries around the world.

“People from religious communities within their borders are being openly targeted by many governments,” Rashad Hussain, special envoy for the Office of International Religious Freedom, told a press conference here after Secretary of State Antony Blinken released the Annual Report 2022 on International Religious Freedom.

The report provides a fact-based perspective on the state of religious freedom in nearly 200 countries and territories around the world.

“The aim is to highlight areas where freedom of religion and belief is being suppressed in order to promote accountability,” Blinken said. Blinken did not mention India in his comments.

Hussain mentioned India in the report on governments openly targeting religious communities.

“The hate speeches made against Muslims in Haridwar were condemned by people from different communities of India and called for upholding the country’s traditions of pluralism and tolerance,” Hussain said.

The India section of the report said that during this year, several cases of violence by law enforcement authorities against people belonging to religious minorities have been reported in several states.

These include the public beating of four Muslim men in plain clothes by police in plainclothes for injuring Hindu devotees during a festival in Gujarat in October and the Madhya Pradesh government firing bulldozers on muslim homes and shops following communal violence in Khargone in April.

In September, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat met five key members of the Muslim community to listen to their problems and discuss ways to promote communal harmony between Muslims and Hindus.

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