A U.S. government panel has again urged urged that Saudi
Arabia be designated a "country of particular concern." The designation
has been reserved for those states regarded as the worst violators of
The Commission on International Religious Freedom called for the designation that would make Saudi
Arabia eligible for sanctions that could halt military sales to
the Arab kingdom.
This was the fourth time the commission recommended that Saudi Arabia be
designated a country of particular concern, Middle East Newsline reported. The State Department has
rejected previous recommendations. Saudi Arabia has been regarded as the
biggest military procurer of U.S. military equipment in the world.
So far, the State Department has deemed Burma, China, North Korea, Iran,
and Sudan as countries of particular concern. The designation makes these
countries eligible for sanctions, including a cutoff in military aid.
In May 2003, the commission recommended that Congress authorize a study
to determine whether and how the Saudi royal family propogates what the
panel termed a "religious ideology that explicitly promotes hate and
toward members of other religious groups, including disfavored Muslims." In
April 2004, the General Accounting Office was asked to determine what the
U.S. government was doing to monitor Saudi funding of institutions that
The commission also asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to add
Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam to the list of countries
particular concern [CPC]. The commission was created by Congress in 1998 to
make recommendations on issues of religious freedom to the president,
of state and Congress.
"The simple designation by the U.S. government of a severe violator of
religious freedom as a CPC is not sufficient action," the commission report
said. "The policy of the United States also must be to take active steps in
response to those countries deemed to be particularly egregious religious
The commission also recommended that Egypt remain on a so-called Watch
List of countries. The report said Egypt's record could approach a level
which would require CPC designation.