Opinion: In Kosovo, U.S. Not Living Up to Its Foreign Policy on Protecting Religious Freedom For All

May 20, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


On May 20, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor ran an opinion piece by Lawrence A. Uzzell, president of International Religious Freedom Watch, about the lack of attention to "ethnic cleansing" of Christian Serbs in Kosovo. Uzzell writes, "Six years ago the US launched a noble experiment, becoming the first nation to proclaim international religious freedom as a goal of its foreign policy. Unfortunately, that experiment has been poisoned by interest-group politics. Usually the US speaks up only for persecuted religious denominations that have large memberships in America or good connections in Washington. Others are mostly ignored - as is the case with Kosovo now. The ethnic Albanian Muslims who dominate that strife-torn Balkan province have been pursuing what a NATO commander recently called 'orchestrated and well-planned ethnic cleansing' against minority Christian Serbs...Imagine the outcry if these had been Baptist or Roman Catholic churches, or synagogues. But Eastern Orthodox Christians seem to have almost no sympathizers in the US except among fellow Orthodox - and among the few human rights advocates who pursue freedom not just for their own co-religionists, but for everyone...Apart from verbal condemnations by the State Department and Congress, the US has done little. In 1997, by contrast, Congress threatened to cut off aid to Russia if it enforced a harsh religion law that menaced Protestants and Roman Catholics...the vision of the 1998 statute on international religious freedom was to protect bona fide religious believers - powerful and weak, indigenous and foreign. Unfortunately, US leaders don't seem fully serious about pursuing that vision in practice."