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Let Freedom of Religion or Belief Ring

As millions of Americans celebrate July 4th, let us not forget freedoms that are under attack in other countries. Specifically, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others …

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Iran’s Government Drives Abuse of Religious Freedom

Two weeks ago agents went to the home of Iranian Mehdi Hajati, a Shiraz City Councilman, and took him to prison for advocating religious tolerance.  Another Councilman, Mehdi Moghaddari, was suspended from his seat for six months for defending Councilman Hajati on social media. Ninety-four percent of Iran’s 82 million citizens are Twelver Shi’a Muslim and four percent are Sunni Muslim. …

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North Korea: Facing the Facts

North Korea is a poor totalitarian state ruled by a ruthless young dictator, Kim Jong-un, who brutally wields great power and lives a life of luxury as many North Koreans endure grinding poverty and repression. Imagine this: “Every home, every school, every hospital, every public building and even every subway car must contain framed photos of Kim Il Sung and …

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Sri Lanka: Easter Attacks Were The Deadliest Violence in a Decade

Around 8:30am on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, Father Kumaran, pastor of the evangelical Zion Church in Batticaloa, spotted a casually dressed stranger carrying a bag standing on the steps of the packed church. The pastor spoke to the man and learned he was a Muslim who said he wanted to attend the service. Another man then questioned the stranger …

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The Power of Story: 10 Must-Read Books About Persecution

The value and impact of storytelling can never be underestimated. Stories go beyond relaying facts and data. They allow us to connect in a deep, meaningful way. Here are 10 books that tell powerful stories of ordinary people who suffered extraordinary persecution for what they believe. Captive In Iran by Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirzadeh Islamic laws forbid sharing Christian …

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India: Growing Intolerance and Hate Toward Religious Minorities

Recently, 40 Christians in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest province, met in the home of a church leader to pray. Two-dozen Hindu militants stormed in and verbally and physically abused those gathered. Six of the worshipers needed urgent medical attention, and it is reported that the militants threatened to return and kill the Christians if they continued to gather for prayer. …

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Your Voice Matters: Stand with Human Rights Heroes

Raif Badawi co-founded the website Free Saudi Liberals in 2008 to encourage debate on religious and political issues in Saudi Arabia despite the country’s restricted civic space. In 2012 the Saudi government arrested him on charges of promoting religious freedom. Badawi received a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, and has been banned from doing media work for a …

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Anti-Semitism: An Ugly Hate Returns

Across France protestors recently rallied in solidarity against what appears to be a growing trend of anti-Semitism in the country and throughout Western Europe. Earlier this month, nearly 100 graves were desecrated with swastikas in a Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg. This follows other incidents in the region in December, including another cemetery where tombstones and a Holocaust memorial were vandalized. …

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Nigeria Steps Forward with Historic Multi-Faith Event

The first fruits from last summer’s inaugural Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom have begun to ripen. At the close of the Ministerial, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo challenged participants to endorse the Potomac Declaration and join in the Potomac Plan of Action. The pair established a framework from which the international community could draw inspiration and a tangible blueprint to …

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China’s Shameful Abuse of Uyghurs

In China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, family members are disappearing. Arfat Aeriken is a Uyghur Muslim who lost contact with his family in 2017. While studying in the U.S., Arfat learned that his father was sentenced to a nine-year prison term and his mother was sent to a concentration camp. He does not know what has happened to his 10-year …