Date: September 28, 2021
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new report:
Saudi Arabia Country Update – This report assesses religious freedom conditions in Saudi Arabia in 2021. While recent shifts have diverted power away from Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment, power remains in the hands of Saudi Arabia’s government. The government has continued, however, to make changes to male guardianship laws and has meaningfully reduced religiously intolerant content in official textbooks. The report notes that religious minorities, religious dissidents, and women in Saudi Arabia continue to face pervasive restrictions on their freedom of religion or belief. Saudi Arabia also continues to detain people on the basis of their religious beliefs, including USCIRF Religious Prisoner of Conscience Raif Badawi.
In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended the State Department re-designate Saudi Arabia as a “Country of Particular Concern,” or CPC, for systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. In December 2020, the State Department re-designated Saudi Arabia as a CPC but issued a national security waiver exempting the country from otherwise legislatively mandated action as a result of the designation.