USA*ENGAGE Urges Senate to Reject Religious Persecution Legislation

Wednesday, 7 October 1998

"While the Senate bill is an improvement over legislation already passed by the House, it remains, in the end, a sanctions bill," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE. "We are very appreciative of the efforts of Senators Nickles, Biden, Hagel, Lugar, Lieberman and Grams in attempting to craft reasonable legislation that advances the cause of religious freedom. However, we disagree with the dependence on unilateral economic sanctions -- which we believe will be counterproductive to the promotion of religious liberty."

Kittredge pointed out that S.1868 could subject as many as 77 countries* to U.S. unilateral sanctions, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf States, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Russia and China. In particular, he referred to statements from the State Department labeling the bill "anti-Islamic." "U.S. relations in the Middle East remain complex and sensitive. Relying on unilateral sanctions to threaten key strategic partners undercuts America's ability to lead, and will likely prove counterproductive," he said.

Kittredge also noted that despite the fact that crucial legislation such as the Sanctions Reform Act (S.1413) was tabled until the Senate Sanctions Task Force could issue its final report, "The Religious Freedom Act is being rushed through at the end of the session. If the work of the Task Force is to be taken seriously, a major new unilateral sanctions bill such as S.1868 should certainly be held until the Senate receives its recommendations."

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 676 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at www.usaengage.org.

*As listed in the State Department's 1997 Report on Christian Persecution.

Contact: Eric Thomas 202/822-9491

 

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