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Iran Rejects U.S. Religious Freedom Report As 'Biased'

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi

Iran has rejected a U.S. religious freedom report critical of Tehran as "unrealistic, baseless, unfounded, and biased."

In its annual International Religious Freedom Report released on August 15, the State Department chided Iran’s government for harassing and arresting Baha'is, Christians, Sunni Muslims, and other religious minorities.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi reacted to the report on August 16, saying it "has only been made with the intention of certain political gains."

Ghasemi said Washington should focus on improving its own record of discrimination and alleged that "religious and racial discrimination, Islamophobia, and xenophobia are a widespread and frequent phenomenon” among U.S. politicians.

He added that Muslims in the United States face "violent and discriminating actions on a daily basis by state bodies."

The U.S. report said the Iranian government "regulated Christian religious practices closely to enforce the prohibition on proselytizing."

Shi'ite religious leaders who did not support government policies "reportedly continued to face intimidation and arrest," according to the report.

It also criticized Iran’s government for the continued use of anti-Semitic and anti-Baha'i rhetoric in official statements, as well as for promoting Holocaust denial.

With reporting by AFP and IRNA