Pompeo urges nations to speak up for the persecuted

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tours the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Pompeo's stop in Turkey is focused on promoting religious freedom and fighting religious persecution, which is a key priority for the U.S. administration, officials said. (© Patrick Semansky/AP Images)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tours the Rustem Pasha Mosque in Istanbul, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Pompeo’s stop in Turkey is focused on promoting religious freedom and fighting religious persecution, which is a key priority for the U.S. administration, officials said. (© Patrick Semansky/AP Im

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo is rallying world leaders to stand strong against religious persecution wherever it occurs.

From November 16 to 17, the government of Poland hosted the third Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In Pompeo’s opening remarks for the event, held virtually this year, the secretary urged the representatives of more than 50 nations and international organizations to challenge religious persecution.

“Let’s keep up our work to secure freedoms in our home countries, and to speak up on behalf of victims of religious persecution around the world,” he said. “Let’s proceed with the understanding that faith is eternal, and tyranny must be overcome.”

Pompeo noted that assaults on religious freedom are happening all over the world. He gave examples of egregious violations of religious freedom, such as the Chinese Communist Party’s internment of more than 1 million predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other minority groups, as well as Iran’s and North Korea’s rampant disregard for religious freedom.

During meetings with local leaders in recent trips to Turkey and Georgia, Pompeo talked about religious freedom as one of many areas of cooperation.

On November 17, Pompeo met with religious leaders in Turkey, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, and discussed issues such as promoting interfaith cooperation in the region.

The secretary met with government and religious leaders in Georgia November 18, including the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Ilia II.

Georgia was among the founding members of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, launched by Pompeo in February. The Alliance is a network of like-minded nations dedicated to addressing challenges to religious freedom around the world.