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Barry, I’ve just returned from Israel where we have opened an office in Jerusalem. In addition to our work at the European Court of Human Rights in France, we are working out of Jerusalem on a number of cases involving religious persecution. We’re currently engaged in defending persecuted Christians in places like the Gaza Strip, Syria and Pakistan.
Not long ago, we assisted in relocating the family of Rami Ayyad of Gaza, an operator of a Christian bookstore, who was brutally murdered by Hamas because of his Christian faith. We were able to assist in removing the widow and her three children to a safer area and relocating them after his murder.
And with our affiliate organization, the European Centre for Law and Justice, we recently secured an important victory in the United Kingdom where an immigration court of appeals for the first time recognized the plight of Syrian Evangelical Christians with Muslim backgrounds who faced real danger – including possible death – if they returned home.
With President Obama’s focus once again on the Middle East – and his much anticipated speech to the Arab world – why not raise this issue? This is the time to put a spotlight on religious freedom and calling for an end to religious persecution. The dangers to those who want to practice their Christian faith in other countries is all too real. Consider this news report about a recent incident in Bangladesh where Muslim villagers beat several evangelists.
And, for those who convert to Christianity from Islam, it’s often even worse. Open Doors, an organization that works to protect religious freedom, noted that while Christians in Muslim countries may convert to Islam, in some places “those who convert from Islam to Christianity likely face isolation, interrogation, arrest, torture, kidnapping and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ.”
What’s wrong with demanding that Islamic governments treat Christians – and those of other faiths – in the same manner that Islamic governments demand that Western nations treat Muslims? President Obama should address this issue head-on – not only in his speech – but in meetings with Arab leaders. President Obama wants to be a world leader – this is a perfect opportunity for him to do just that.
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