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International day commemorating victims of religious persecution observed for the first time

Summary

  • First-time international recognition of victims of religious persecution
  • Call for real action rather than just recognition

NEW YORK (21 August 2019) – Tomorrow, the “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief” will be observed for the first time. The day was created by the United Nations in May 2019. Experts consider it an important step towards the prevention of religious persecution in the future.

“No one should be persecuted because of his or her faith. All people have the right to peacefully live out their faith, and we can never forget those who have faced persecution for doing so. We welcome the United Nations’ decision to create an international day commemorating victims of religious persecution. At the same time, we are acutely aware that remembrance alone is not enough. Religious persecution is on the rise around the world. Therefore we urge all States to ensure that their laws and policies are in line with their commitments to protect religious freedom under international law,” said Kelsey Zorzi, President of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the United Nations and Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International.

All people have the right to peacefully live out their faith, and we can never forget those who have faced persecution for doing so. At the same time, we are acutely aware that remembrance alone is not enough. Religious persecution is on the rise around the world.

Persecution globally on the rise

Recent reports by various national governments highlight the intensity of global persecution. A report commissioned by the British Foreign Office that was published in July outlines the persecution of Christians all over the world. It concludes that they are the most persecuted religious group in the world and reveals an increase in the phenomenon.

Similarly, the US Department of State recently hosted the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The Ministerial highlighted the stories of those who have faced persecution. Advocates and government officials discussed goals and strategies to better protect religious minorities and those persecuted for their religion.

Need for action, not just recognition

Zorzi said, “Before we can find solutions on how to best protect international religious freedom we need to define the problems. Alliances and platforms such as the International Religious Freedom Roundtable are hugely valuable in discussing and developing these solutions. Civil society has much to offer policymakers on religious freedom, but must go beyond merely asking for action. We need to create the actual solutions we want to see, and build alliances to grow our reach. Simply commemorating victims will not prevent further religious persecution from happening.”

Find out more about ADF International’s efforts against religious persecution here.

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