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Statement:

One of the most used words in todays society is freedom. This word has become the
most potent word in todays political lexicon. In his second inaugural address, former American
president George W. Bush used it forty times. It is a word highly promoted, presented many
times as the most important right a human being should have. It refers to large variety of rights as
freedom of speech or freedom of information, but it also refers to freedom of religion. But
although freedom is very much promoted, when it comes to religion, it is often misunderstood.
Compared to other basic freedoms, specialists have asserted that religious rights have been
neglected by the world community, probably as a consequence of the basic disagreement on the
nature and extent of some religious freedoms.
Persecutions on religious grounds represent a grave and present danger, as it is seen
between believers and non-believers, or between different religions or churches in multireligious states, or between states with an official or preferred religion and persons and
communities not belonging to it.
In the seven decades since the establishment of the UN, a wide spectrum of global and
regional instruments intended to protect human rights has been developed. Religious rights are
among the protected rights, but no global obligatory treaty has been adopted in this sensitive
area. In 1981, the UN General Assembly made an important step in protecting religious rights.
The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on
Religion or Belief was proclaimed, but it has not become a mandatory instrument.
One of the most important human values promoted by Christianity is the love of thy
neighbor. Although love is a strong word, as also freedom, modern society, if based on Christian
values, cannot expect this from every human being. But, love can easily be replaced by
acceptance, respect, or at least tolerance. The conflict between Islam and Christianity is not a
new matter, but today it seems that we deal with an exacerbation of violence based on religious
principles. It is curious how a religion like Christianity, which promotes not only tolerance and

the acceptance of the other, but even sacrificing yourself for another who can have other
religious beliefs, can be seen by Muslims as such a big threat. Two millenniums ago Christianity
convinced the world of its superior moral teaching as opposed to the pagan faiths of that time. It
succeeded to do this trough personal example and without bloodshed. Persecutions were present
then too, but not because of the new religion, but because of its opponents. Today, although we
like to say that we live in a modern world, persecutions are still present. Every day people die for
their faith, and 75% of them are Christians. Christian persecution is defined as any hostility
experienced from the world as a result of ones identification as a Christian. Beatings, physical
torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in
education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they
experience on a daily basis. Statements like you will not have safety even in your dreams, until
you accept Islam, our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, or safety for you will
be only wishes made by members of ISIS are a clear statement of their intentions.
Religious cleansing - a war against the people of the Cross:
From November 2013 to October 2014, researchers from Open Doors USA measured the
degree of freedom a Christian has to live out his or her faith in five spheres of life: private,
family, community, national and church life, plus a sixth category measuring the degree of
violence. Nearly 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, thus making them one of the
most persecuted religious groups in the world, according to the report. As this persecution
reaches historic levels, researchers believe the worst is yet to come.
20 years after the commemoration of the United Nations Year for Tolerance (1995),
religious conflicts are far from being solved. According to the World Watch List, in its 2015
report, Islamic extremism is by far the most significant persecution engine of Christians in the
world today and that 40 of the 50 countries on the World Watch List are affected by this kind of
persecution. The Watch List states that in the world today each month, on average, 322
Christians are killed for their faith, 214 Christian churches and properties are destroyed, and 772
acts of violence occur against Christians. The countries where Christian persecution is the worst
are North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, and Nigeria.
The report found that the Middle East is still one of the most violent areas of the world for
Christians, particularly in areas afflicted by aggression from the Islamic State. More than 70% of

Christians have fled Iraq since 2003, and more than 700,000 Christians have left Syria since the
civil war began in 2011. In general, 2013 represents the largest displacement of religious
communities in recent memory; millions of people with different religious views were forced
from their homes on account of their religious beliefs.
Prior to 2003, Iraq was home to one of the largest Christian communities of the Middle
East. Christians have lived in Iraq for nearly two millennia but are currently on the verge of
extinction. In July 2014, ISIS began marking houses owned by Christians with the Arabic N,
which stands for Nazarene. These houses were taken over by ISIS militants. The militants gave
Christians in Mosul an ultimatum to convert to Islam by July 19th, pay a tax, or be executed.
Also 2014 mark another tragic in the History of Christianity: after more the sixteen centuries of
continuous service, 2014 is the year when the Liturgy, the center of Christian spirituality, has
ceased to be done in his ancient Christian center. From the 45 Orthodox Churches from Mosul,
now there is not a single one.
Somalia, with its 99.8% Muslim population, ranks second on the Watch List and has only
a few hundred Christians. In Somalia, Islamic religious leaders publicly maintain that there is no
room for Christianity, Christians, or churches in Somalia, a view upheld and reinforced by
government officials. In the countrys very recent history, Muslim converts to Christianity have
often been killed on the spot when discovered.
Pakistan, with its extreme majority of Sunni Muslims, has also registered an uptick in
anti-Christian violence, especially under the aegis of Pakistans blasphemy laws. According to
reports, churches in Pakistan are frequently vandalized, and Christians are beaten, raped,
abducted, and murdered with impunity. Christians also face discrimination in employment and
education, which keep them in the lower classes.
Sadly even Christian-majority states are experiencing unprecedented levels of exclusion,
discrimination and violence. The 2015 World Watch List reveals that a staggering number of
Christians are becoming victims of intolerance and violence because of their faith. They are
being forced to be more secretive about their faith. In some countries (including Europe), people

are prohibited from wearing crosses at work, citing the need for tolerance, do not use the word
Christmas, do not call Easter Easter, saying just winter holiday or spring holiday instead.
The Palestinian territories were ranked #26 among countries where Christians face the
most persecution. While the territorys prominent religion is Islam, 40,000 of its 4.5 million
inhabitants identify as Christian. The report states that dynamics of Christian persecution in the
Palestinian territories are complex. Christians are squeezed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
their ethnicity entailing many restrictions from the Israeli side and their religion putting them in a
minority position within the Palestinian community.

Recommendations:
1. Human rights are indivisible. Human rights related to religion, and intolerance and
discrimination in the field of religion, cannot be dissociated from the need to observe
the general principle of equality.
2. The System for the protection of religious human rights should include a specific
obligatory treaty regarding religious human rights. Also this treaty should clearly
define the term religion in order to avoid any ideological of philosophical
definitions that may cause controversy.
3. We need to define what religious freedom is in a very clear way. Multiple conflicts
arise in countries where there are different religious views which often come in
conflict. India could be considered a very good example. There are Christians,
Buddhists, Hindi, and Muslims. This definition should be a well-balanced one and it
should be taken into consideration that one mans freedom could affect the freedom of
the other.
4. Seeing all the damages that this conflict arises, there is a great need for an improved,
performant monitoring system. Also, there should be a larger focus on countries

outside Europe, with religious rights issues. Most of our energy and resources should
be directed as much as possible on areas like the Middle-East and Africa.
5. A closer collaboration between different Christian Dioceses and NGOs on one side
and the UN on the other. Using the resources of the first two, would help the UN to
reach out to people not only on a political level, but also on a humanitarian one.