Press Release: The Religious Freedom Institute Observes the UN’s First International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief

August 22, 2019, Washington, D.C. – The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) today observes the UN’s inaugural International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. Earlier this year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming this day of commemoration in response to the alarming rise in persecution of religious persons and communities around the world. 

Recalling recent examples of violence, Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, introduced the draft resolution stating: “Any acts of violence against people belonging to religious minorities cannot be accepted… The International Day will aim to honor victims and survivors who remain forgotten.” Czaputowicz proposed the draft on behalf of Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the United States.

 Beyond condemning acts of religious persecution and honoring its victims and survivors, the resolution also serves as a call to action. Namely, it urges the international community to come together and stand up for those still suffering from unjust restrictions or violence due to their religion or belief.

As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasized, “On this day, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the victims of violence based on religion and belief. And we demonstrate that support by doing all in our power to prevent such attacks and demanding that those responsible are held accountable.”

RFI condemns religious persecution in all its forms. It violates the fundamental human right to religious freedom and severely undermines stability and security wherever it occurs.

In the words of RFI Executive Vice President, Eric Patterson: “Unfortunately, religion-defined violence is a global phenomenon, but it is immoral and self-defeating. It is immoral because it is unjust to harm people simply because one does not value their faith tradition. It is self-defeating because so often the minorities who are persecuted in one area are the majority elsewhere, causing an international tit-for-tat of religio-nationalist violence in places like Burma, Sudan and elsewhere.”

“With three-fourths of the world’s population living in countries where religion is highly or very highly restricted,” writes RFI President Thomas Farr, “we are witnessing a global crisis of religious freedom.” RFI applauds the UN for acknowledging this crisis through this solemn day of commemoration.

The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) works to secure religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. RFI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C.

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Media Contact: Nathan Berkeley