Date: September 19, 2023
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new report:
Personal Status and Family Law in the Middle East and North Africa: Implications for Women and Religious Freedom – This report continues USCIRF’s ongoing assessment of the global religious freedom implications of government laws based on official or favored religions, in this case examining the dynamics of personal status and family laws in the Middle East and North Africa. The report examines illustrative case studies from a range of countries in the areas of marriage and divorce, inheritance, and guardianship. It finds that the compulsion of obedience to officially accepted interpretations of religious law often results in limitations on religious freedom, particularly for women—even in countries in which the population generally faces less religiously repressive conditions than those which USCIRF already recommends for designation as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) or Special Watch List (SWL) countries.
USCIRF demonstrated in a November 2022 report that governments with an official or favored religion are far more likely than those without them to maintain laws restricting religious freedom and other human rights on the basis of religion. In its 2023 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate Saudi Arabia as a Country of Particular Concern and place Egypt on its Special Watch List.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a commissioner, please contact USCIRF at