By Janet Ekstract
UNITED NATIONS (TURKISH JOURNAL) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised President Trump at last week’s UN summit for putting special emphasis on and giving priority to the issue of religious freedom.
Both Trump and Guterres spoke about the importance of religious freedom in the volatile environments many people live in.
President Trump said the American Constitution is “unique in the world” because it provides for religious freedom protected under law. The Secretary-General said that it’s a “tragic reality” that religious freedom is not a reality fir a majority of people around the world.
Toward the goal of expanding on and developing religious freedom even further, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced plans to create the International Religious Freedom Alliance of “likeminded nations” as Trump stated,, that will be devoted to confronting religious persecution throughout the world.
Trump mentioned that in 2018, Pompeo hosted the first ever Ministerial To Advance International Religious Freedom whose goal is to bring foreign officials together at the level of Minister as well as representatives from civil society and victims of religious persecution and discrimination, to discuss violations of religious freedom around the globe.
Pompeo hosted the second Ministerial in July, reiterating previous international commitments to promote religious freedom while focusing on solid results to produce lasting, positive change. The 2019 Ministerial was the largest religious freedom event of this type in the world. More than 1,000 civil society and religious leaders attended.
As a reminder of religious persecution, there were a number of attendees at Trump ‘s talk who had been victims of religious persecution including American Pastor Andrew Brunson who had been a practicing pastor in Turkey for 23 years before he was arrested and remained in prison for at least two years.
The U.S. president thanked Turkish President Erdogan for his efforts in expediting Pastor Brunson ‘s release and praised Erdogan as a “friend.”
In addition to the Ministerial, Trump said he will allocate an additional $25 million for use to ensure the protection and preservation of religious sites, relics and religious freedom.
Besides that, Trump stated that he has already appointed a special monitor to combat anti-semitism and said he fully supports the 250 million Christians worldwide who he said are “routinely persecuted.”
Trump announced another major initiative that he said is a first of its kind – a Coalition of U.S. Businesses For The Protection Of Religious Freedom. The goal is to encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.
As Trump explained: “Too often people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning or censoring the faithful. True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”
The UN chief added: “The persecution of religious minorities is “utterly intolerable.”
The U.S. president said he was shocked to learn that 80 percent of the global population live in areas of the world where religious freedom is threatened.
Guterres commented that seeing people publicly attacked for their religious beliefs is “utterly intolerable” as he referred to more than three incidents last month where Orthodox Jews including a rabbi, were brutally attacked on the streets of New York City.
The Secretary-General added that religious freedom is a “pressing global issue and one that is close to my heart.” As Trump expressed: “The U.S. of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution.”
Both leaders expressed their common hope that a more comprehensive plan to protect religious freedom will be a step in the right direction in eventually ending religious persecution worldwide.