UN Expert on Religious Intolerance Appeals for Support

News October 2005

Ms. Asma Jahangir speaks in New York

New York, NY… United Nations expert Ms. Asma Jahangir appealed for greater support in the fight against religious intolerance during a meeting in New York on October 24. She also commended the IRLA's work, saying "you have been in the forefront of fighting religious intolerance, wanting a space for every human being to believe what they want to."

But much more is needed, according to Jahangir, noting that with the limited resources she had, it was not possible to do everythingthat was needed, but that by partnering with non-government organizations much more could be achieved. She spoke particularly of the dangers of politicization of religion, saying that "politics should not be allowed to overtake people's right to believe." She also called on all faith communities to commit themselves to ending religious intolerance, adding that "unless we get the support of all religions at the UN, the work that I am undertaking will not be achieved."
In a special plea, Jahangir spoke with passion about the role of religious freedom organizations. "I appeal to you, give new hope to people so we can live as a wider humanity, respecting each other's beliefs and religion."

Jahangir, who is the UN's special rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, intervenes in cases of religious persecution and violence around the world. She herself is no stranger to violence and discrimination, having been the victim of an attack in her home country of Pakistan this year.

"We salute Asma Jahangir's deep commitment to tackling the growing scourge of religious intolerance," comments Jonathan Gallagher, the IRLA's representative to the UN, who was present at the meeting. "The true modern tragedy is that more and more men, women, and children are suffering and dying just because of what they believe. As Christians we are committed to religious liberty for all people everywhere, believing that this speaks so well of the God of freedom." [IRLA News]