March24 , 2023

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    The UN announced that August 22 will be observed as International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

    Delegates from 88 nations, including Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland and the United States, sponsored a resolution on May 28, 2019 adopting a commemorative day to recognize the victims of violence because of religious persecution.

    The UN needs to work towards establishing an international tribunal addressing the issue of impunity for acts of religion-based violence. —Mark Riedemann, Aid to the Church in Need

    “Any acts of violence against people belonging to religious minorities cannot be accepted,” said Jacek Czaputowicz, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland.

    The representative of Brazil condemned all religion-based hate crimes, suggesting interfaith dialog as a means to make people tolerant of others. He highlighted his country, once a predominantly Catholic nation but now has 40% of its population adhering to different religions, as “a model for ethnic and religious tolerance.”

    Meantime, Austin Smith, the representative of the United States, said the religious violence which happened in San Diego and Sri Lanka is a wake up call for the international community to unite and protect religious communities in the world. He criticized governments that implement laws which discriminate religious minorities. He said, “We will not hesitate to press countries to reform their oppressive laws and policies.”

    Christian anti-persecution group, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), welcomed the UN’s resolution. In an interview with online Catholic news, Aleteia, Mark Riedemann, ACN’s Director of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom, said the move may be late, but it “sends a clear message every August 22 that acts of religion-based violence cannot and will not be tolerated by the UN.”

    Riedemann admitted that observing a day for the victims of religious violence will not stop the persecution instantly. He said, “The UN needs to work towards establishing an international tribunal addressing the issue of impunity for acts of religion-based violence by groups ranging from Boko Haram to Al-Shabaab to ISIS.”