Friday, December 28, 2012

A Plea to help protect Religious Freedom

This affects everyone. 

The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) has launched an online White House petition urging President Obama to “Stand up for the rights of endangered Christian minorities around the world this Christmas season.”  The petition can be found at to rules, if the petition reaches the 25,000 signatures threshold, the White House has to issue a formal written response.  We have until January 6, 2013.

The petition language explains that:

Christians in the greater Middle East face extinction in their homelands. In Syria’s civil war, Christians who make up 10% of the population are targeted. Christians in Egypt (12% of that population) suffer social persecution and political exclusion. Christians in Iraq (1% of that population) face daily threats and violence. In Turkey, the number of Christians has plummeted to less than .1% due to systematic rights violations, including the oppression of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In occupied Cyprus, the Turkish military has essentially snuffed out Christianity to around 400 survivors. The administration should act now to protect the rights of these groups by calling on countries in the greater Middle East to protect religious freedom, especially that of their Christian minorities.

Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC explains the timing of the petition: “As we wrap our gifts, Syria’s Christians are being attacked, Egypt’s Christians are being excluded from the forming of the new Egyptian state, and enclaved Greek Cypriots need to seek permission to celebrate Christmas in occupied Cyprus.  Turkey continuously lied about opening Halki throughout President Obama’s first term, and this Christmas, the future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is as uncertain as ever.”

The rights violations identified in the petition were analyzed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which, earlier this year, downgraded Turkey to the list of “Countries of Particular Concern,” the list of the worst violators of religious rights in the world.  The grassroots effort of this petition can help turn the USCIRF recommendations into actions by Washington to protect the human rights of Christians whose very survival is at stake.  Christians can voice their support for the universal human right of religious freedom by signing this petition and by calling attention to the vulnerability of Christians struggling to survive in the ancient lands of Christianity. 

and do your part and help shine the light on the plight of Christians this Christmas.

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