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The following op-ed appeared on Investor's Business Daily on August 28, 2014.
When Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag — the 27-year-old Sudanese wife and mother initially sentenced to death for apostasy — arrived this month in the U.S., it signaled the welcome end to a nightmarish story of religious freedom abuse. Others like her have been less fortunate.
Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, is serving an eight-year sentence in Iran for involvement in the house-church movement. Beijing has imprisoned and tortured Gao Zhisheng, one of China's most respected human rights leaders, for defending fellow citizens of various faiths, from Falun Gong to Christians.
Such stories remind us that defending freedom of religion or belief — the right to believe or not believe and to act peacefully on such convictions — is a humanitarian imperative.
But there is another reason the world should defend this right: Several studies connect religious-freedom violations to serious societal harm.
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