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US religion watchdog accused of bias

Allegations of religious bias are being levelled against a notable U.S. federal body: the one responsible for monitoring international religious freedom.

world Updated: Feb 18, 2010 00:49 IST

Allegations of religious bias are being levelled against a notable U.S. federal body: the one responsible for monitoring international religious freedom.

Some past commissioners, staff and former staff of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom say that behind the scenes, the agency charged with advising the president and Congress is rife with ideology, tribalism, and commissioners focusing on pet projects that are often based on their own religious background.

In particular, they say, an anti-Muslim bias runs through the commission’s work a charge denied by its chairman, Leonard Leo.

Nevertheless, the commission was hit this fall with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by a former policy analyst, Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, who alleges her contract was cancelled because of her Muslim faith and her affiliation with a Muslim advocacy group.

Rumours about infighting have swirled for years around the commission, created by Congress in 1998 as part of the International Religious Freedom Act.

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