The Obama administration warned Tuesday of growing religious intolerance and violence in Arab nations undergoing popular revolts that could undermine fragile democratic transitions.

While the overthrow of longtime autocratic leaders in the Middle East and North Africa has given millions hope for freedom it has also opened up religious and ethnic minorities to new threats, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. She urged countries not to “trade one form of repression for another” and to embrace the freedom to worship for all faiths as they embrace political pluralism for the first time in generations.

“In the Middle East and North Africa, the transitions to democracy have inspired the world but they have also exposed ethic and religious minorities to new dangers,” Clinton told reporters as she unveiled the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report. “People have been killed by their own neighbors because of their ethnicity or faith. In other places we have seen governments stand by while sectarian violence inflamed by religious animosities tears communities apart.”

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