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A Time to Take a Stand for Religious Freedom


December 23, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The media worldwide recently reported that Muslims in northern Kenya bravely refused to identify the Christians among them so that al-Shabaab terrorists, who were holding them all at gunpoint, could murder these Christians.  That this report has received such broad coverage is significant and has particular resonance during this holiday season, as we look back at the past year and toward a new year.

With so many humanitarian crises and the horrific violence committed by terrorists in many places throughout the world, 2015 has been a tough year for religious freedom and human rights. We have become so accustomed to stories of death and division that Kenyan Muslims risking their lives for Kenyan non-Muslims offers us great hope during this season,” said Robert P. George, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). 

During the past year, violent non-state actors, including al-Shabaab in eastern Africa, ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighboring countries, perpetrated egregious violations of religious freedom and human rights, killing Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  These groups also forced millions to flee their homes, threatening the very existence of some religious minority communities. During the past year, religious minority communities and dissenting members of religious majority communities also faced severe persecution from governments in a variety of countries, such as North Korea, Eritrea, and Iran. 

During this holiday season, we should stand with those who are persecuted for their faith, praise those who support and give shelter to the persecuted, and reaffirm our commitment to protecting and promoting this most sacred freedom of religion or belief.  These brave Kenyans remind us that individuals make a difference when they take a stand and support the religious freedom of others. Governments need to do the same,” said Chairman George.

Please see the 2015 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which highlights the issues and countries noted in this press release.  

To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or 202-786-0615.