The actions and policy of the U.S. Government play a critical role in the fight for human rights and religious freedom. In particular, the U.S. Department of State gathers information and writes uniquely authoritative reports on human rights. What the State Department reports or fails to report has an enormous affect on human rights work all over the world.
As we discussed on the blog, the State Department failed in a number of instances to accurately and clearly portray human rights abuses. As a human rights group, Jubilee Campaign finds this trend very concerning.
Fortunately, we are not alone. Allies of religious freedom in Congress wrote a bill entitled the “Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2011.” This bill establishes a Special Envoy, specifically tasked to investigate the plight of religious minorities from Egypt through Iraq and Pakistan to Nepal. It passed the House 402 to 20 and waits for the Senate’s approval.
This bill is desperately necessary. One of the recent reporting failures of the State Department involves the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt. Hundreds of cases document the Egyptian practice of kidnapping Christian girls and forcing them into abusive marriages with Muslim men.
In Iraq the two-thirds of the Christian population was forced into exile, publicly murdered or quietly ‘disappeared.’ The freely elected government of Afghanistan put several Christians on trial for ‘apostasy.’ Iran stands on the brink of executing a Christian pastor for ‘insulting Islam’ by believing in another faith.
Muslim extremists use Pakistan’s blasphemy law to oppress Christians and Hindus. Hindu nationalists use India’s anti-conversion laws to oppress Christians and Muslims. Nepal’s proposed criminal code combines blasphemy language with anti-conversion language, and extremists are already targeting religious minorities.
The State Department’s current mechanisms have proven unable to even recognize many of these trends much less combat them. This bill is a badly needed addition to the toolkit of the U.S. Government in dealing with the entrenched hatred of religious minorities.
This legislation does not draw the ire of either party. It is not controversial. Instead, it faces the indifference of those with a lot on their plate. Many people on Capitol Hill are sympathetic in theory, but in practice they simply do not see the vital importance of these issues.
Please reach out to your Senator and let them see. They are your representative. They will listen to you. We urge you to let your voice be heard.
Over the past decade, terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East specifically targeted religious minorities. These attacks and the lack of protection provided by the governments involved, including the US, have shown a serious disregard for the rights of these minorities. Peaceful communities which have existed for hundreds of years are being wiped out. Existing mechanisms at the U.S. Department of State have proven unable to recognize and respond to these human rights violations.
To provide that necessary response, Senators Roy Blunt and Carl Levin introduced S. 1245 entitled the “Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2011.” This bill has already passed the House 402 to 20 in a massive showing of bipartisan support.
As my Senator, I would like to ask to you to support this Bill. There are few things as evil as punishing someone for their honest convictions. I ask that you do everything in your power to end religious persecution, especially of minorities.