At the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom at UN headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the state of religious freedom internationally as “a pressing global issue and one that is also very close to my heart.”
He described as “totally unacceptable” any discrimination or intimidation of an individual because of their beliefs and that the persecution of religious minorities is “utterly intolerable.”
“There is richness and strength in diversity,” said Guterres. “It is never a threat” and “the best way to promote international religious freedom is by uniting our voices for good, countering messages of hate with messages of peace, embracing diversity and protecting human rights everywhere… Holy sites should be places of worship, not places of war … Jews have been murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized; Christians killed at prayer, their churches torched. And in many hotspots around the world, entire communities have been targeted because of their faith—including in places where those communities have existed for centuries, if not millennia.”
He pointed out the danger in “all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and incitement to violence. Hatred is a threat to everyone.”
Despite the severity of the situation, he expressed optimism about the February 2019 meeting between His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed al‑Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al‑Azhar, the world’s oldest mosque-university and Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning. He referred to the statement these two religious icons signed as “a moving testament for mutual respect. It stated that the diversity of religions is willed by the Creator. ‘This divine wisdom,’ they wrote, ‘is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derive.’”
Guterres thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his “initiative and leadership” in organizing the briefing and thanked him for “putting a focus on religious freedom,” an issue that is very close to his heart.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.