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Rice on International Religious Freedom Report

Remarks on the U.S. Department of State's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom


Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 15, 2006

(10:07 a.m. EDT)


SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. Today, I have transmitted to Congress the 8th Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. We hope that this report which is also available at the State Department's website will serve as a resource for all in the United States and in the international community who share our concerns about religious freedom. We also hope that it will serve as a source of encouragement to those whose plight is documented in the report and whose right to believe and practice and worship as they choose is still denied by their governments.

Five years ago this week, the American people observed a national day of prayer and remembrance for those who died in the terrorist attacks. We gathered in the National Cathedral and in houses of worship all across the country and indeed across the world to draw strength and solace from one another and from our faiths. We came together, Muslims and Jews, and Christians, Sikhs, Hindu, Buddhists, people of every faith united in grief, united in resolve, and united in conviction that the power of compassion and love is stronger than the forces of hate.

On Monday we marked the fifth-year anniversary of September 11th with a ceremony at the State Department to remember the more than 90 countries that lost citizens in those attacks. Some victims were in the United States on business, others were visiting relatives. It was a stark reminder that the entire world was affected by these brutal and horrific attacks, and the entire world is threatened by the extremist ideology of hate and bigotry and religious intolerance.

Indeed, September 11th has made us more aware of our own religious diversity in the United States and how important it is. The events of that day make this report all the more important, and they renew our determination to honor the highest ideals that we have always affirmed throughout our history, the ideals of a democratic society that protects and respects religious differences. Religious freedom is deeply rooted in our principals and our history as a nation. And it is now integral to our efforts to combat terrorism and the ideology of hatred that fuels it.

In today's world, our goal of fostering religious freedom and tolerance beyond our borders is an essential component even of national security. Through our bilateral relationships, our work in international fora and our many ongoing discussions on this issue with people around the world, the United States seeks to promote religious freedom and tolerance and build a more peaceful world for the peoples of all faiths.

It is now my pleasure to introduce Ambassador Hanford, who leads the State Department's work in religious freedom and tolerance. And Ambassador Hanford will provide additional details about the report and will answer your questions.

Thank you very much.

2006/824

Released on September 15, 2006

ENDS


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