The United States released a bleak report into the state of religious freedom around the world Wednesday, decrying jihadist attacks on Middle East minorities and a rise in European anti-Semitism.
In its annual survey of religious discrimination, the State Department said that, while many governments had worked harder to end abuses, extremist non-state actors like the Islamic State group are on the rise.
And discrimination is not limited to Washington's foes and rivals like Iran and China but is "egregious" in close allies like Saudi Arabia and worrisome even in Western democracies like France and Germany.
"No nation can fulfil its potential if its people are denied the right to practice, to hold, to modify, to openly profess their innermost beliefs," Secretary of State John Kerry said as the report was unveiled.
"We hope to give governments an added incentive to honor the religious dignity of their citizens," he said.
The "International Religious Freedom Report" has no direct impact on US policy towards the countries it studies, but Kerry said it would serve as reference for diplomats and activists lobbying for change.
In the 12 months since the last report the most serious religious persecution has been carried out by jihadist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin.
"Under their control, captives have been given a choice between conversion or slavery or death," Kerry said.
"Entire populations of religious minority groups have been targeted for killing. Terrified young girls have been separated out by religion and sold into slavery."
The author of the report, Washington's special envoy for religious freedom Ambassador David Saperstein, cited the fate of the Yazidi and Christian religious minorities in northern Iraq as particularly severe.