WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has directed his administration to advance and defend religious freedom at home and abroad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday, ruing that majority of the countries in the world place significant limitations on religious freedom.
"President Trump has directed all of us in his administration to advance and defend religious freedom at home and abroad, because religious freedom is a universal, a God-given right, to which all people, all people, are entitled," Pompeo said in his address to the 13th Annual Values Voter Summit.
He said religious freedom was an essential building block for all free societies.
"It's a freedom that I care personally about, and I know you do as well. It's the one that drew me to serve my country in the United States Armed Forces," he said.
"But sadly, today more than 80 per cent of the global population live in countries that place significant limitations on religious freedom," Pompeo said.
He said, "I know it brings many of us heavy hearts to watch the ongoing persecution of Christians and other minorities in countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are fighting for human dignity of the Iranian people by speaking the truth about the oppressive and corrupt regime that controls those people."
Pompeo alleged that religious minorities in Iran were routinely imprisoned, stripped of their rights, kicked out of their jobs, and subject to many other abuses. After President Trump withdrew from the flawed deal, he implemented a new strategy to force a change in the Iranian regime's behaviour, said the top American diplomat.
And part of this strategy is to make sure that the voices inside Iran crying out for accountability, justice, and religious freedom know that the United States stands with them, he added.
"We stand with the Christians, the Jews, the Sufis, the Muslims, the Zoroastrians, the Baha'i, and all other faith groups in Iran who have had their human dignity violated by this regime," Pompeo said.