Time for Obama to Speak Out
Is promoting religious freedom abroad a priority in President Obama's foreign policy?
BY: Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East
Is promoting religious freedom abroad a priority in President Obama's foreign policy? A few members of Congress certainly think it should be. On Thursday, the President will be getting a letter from more than 50 representatives urging him to publicly address human rights and religious freedom during his upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia. In a pre-release copy of the letter obtained by International Christian Concern, members of congress ask the president to specifically address several human rights issues, including the "major concern" of religious freedom. The letter also calls on the president to take the bold step of addressing these issues publicly, saying "If your administration has previously raised such concerns through private channels, the Government of Saudi Arabia's grave human rights record reveals its willingness to ignore such advice."
President Obama is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah in Riyadh to address a number of important securityissues in the region. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a leader among Islamic countries, a close ally of the United States, but also one of the most restrictive countries in the world with respect to fundamental human rights and religious freedoms. As a friend and ally, President Obama should urge King Abdullah, and the other officials he meets with, to respect those values that America claims to represent, values which President Obama himself has recently praised. "Yet even as our faith sustains us, it's also clear that around the world, freedom of religion is under threat," President Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 6, 2014.
"We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful. We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, or how they pray, or who they love," he continued. This statement is profoundly true about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. "Freedom of Religion is Neither Recognized nor Protected under the Law" As the most recent report on International Religious Freedom from the Department of State describes, "Freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and the government severely restricted it in practice."