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August 22: First UN World Day for Victims of Religious Persecution


On August 22 the UN, for the first time, will dedicate this day in rememberance for the victims of religiously motivated violence.

The resolution was passed on May 28 after the proposal of Poland, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

This initiative is widely applauded by organizations that are aware of the anguish suffered by religious minorities in intolerant countries.    

THOMAS HEINE-GELDERN
Executive President, Aid to the Church in Need

“Well ACN is defending the position and rights of Christians, especially when they are discriminated and suffering; or persecuted for the last 70 years. Therefore we are very happy about the declaration of this commemorating day on August 22. This is because it builds us a platform and provides us with the possibility to act against further acts of violence. Especially when you take into account that the majority of the persecuted people are Christian worldwide.

MARTA PETROSILLO
Spokesperson in Italy, Aid to the Church in Need

“It is always important to draw the world's attention to religious persecution. This is because it is an issue that is often kept silent. The idea of dedicating a day to those who suffer because of their faith is a very important step. I would like to say that it is a step that must be taken by all these people who, by living their faith, face deprivation, discrimination and even death.”

Aid to the Church in Need appreciates the commemoration of this day, but stresses that much work still lies ahead.  

THOMAS HEINE-GELDERN
Executive President, Aid to the Church in Need

“We are very happy about the recognition of this commemorating day. This is because it is the first step in the right direction. It is the first time an international body, as important as the United Nations, is recognizing that there exists acts of violence based on religion; and with this recognition one is acknowledging the problem and one can then can then use that as a platform for future measurements against these violent acts. We are convinced it's the right step in the right direction. Whether it by itself will change so much we will have to see. However, we should bear in mind that it is the duty of the nations and the international organization like the United Nation to fight for Religious Freedom and against acts of violence based on religion. So, this August 22 will be a perfect opportunity to remind the international bodies to do so.”

Aid to the Church in Need estimates that one in five Christians in the world live in countries where there is persecution or religious discrimination.

All these people, who have been victims of violence for religious reasons, not just Christians, will be remembered on August 22.