The United States Issues a Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom Before the UN

September 23, 2019 Washington, D.C. — In a historic event at the UN, the United States issued a global call to protect religious freedom. During his address, President Donald J. Trump urged greater international support for ongoing religious freedom efforts to an audience of government dignitaries, including UN Secretary General António Guterres, and hundreds of religious, NGO, and business leaders.

“No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, flourishing society than religious freedom,” said President Trump. “Yet it is unfortunately rare around the world. As we speak, many people of faith are being jailed, murdered, often at the hands of their own government.” 

The United States hosted this high-level event alongside the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), and the White House has made it one of the signature initiatives of the President’s visit to the UNGA. Vice President Mike Pence introduced President Trump at the event. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, were also in attendance.  

“In his remarks today, President Trump highlighted the fact that religious freedom increases prosperity, reduces instability, and undermines violent extremism,” said Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), who attended the event. “The United States is beginning to employ these critical strategic arguments, which complement the moral case for religious freedom that is grounded in the equal dignity of every person. This administration has made religious freedom a foreign policy priority and is now calling on others, including the business community, to join that effort,” said Farr.     

The event also featured the testimonies of numerous survivors or relatives of victims of religious persecution, including Dabrina Bet Tamraz, daughter of imprisoned Iranian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz; Jewher Ilham, an Uyghur human rights advocate and daughter of renowned scholar Ilham Tohti who has been sentenced to life in prison in China; Rabbi Faiz Algaradi, one of the few remaining people from Yemen’s Jewish community; and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor and activist who was honored with the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

On Tuesday morning, September 24, RFI is hosting a UNGA Side Event, Mapping the Landscape of International Religious Freedom Policy,” to highlight the growing global efforts by governments and civil society actors to promote religious freedom.

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