Press Releases

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement marking International Religious Freedom Day and condemning examples of religious persecution around the world:

“Religious freedom is not just an American ideal, but a human one. On this International Religious Freedom Day, I stand in solidarity with everyone across the globe who is forced to practice their chosen faith in secret for fear of persecution, including in some cases, the threat of death.

“In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory, and the trend in 2014 has only gotten worse. Today is a day to not only remember international religious freedom, but a time to renew America’s commitment to advocating for religious freedom abroad, and our moral responsibility to speak out when it is threatened anywhere.

“Such is the case in China where Alimujiang Yimiti, a Muslim convert to Christianity, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 and is still being imprisoned ‘solely because of his faith.’ In Pakistan, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy and has been languishing in a jail ever since as her husband and five children live under death threats and have been forced into hiding. In Iran, Saeed Abedini, a 32-year-old American citizen with dual Iranian citizenship, has been imprisoned since 2012, where he has received regular beatings resulting in severe internal bleeding, for practicing his Christian faith. In Burma, anti-Muslim violence fueled by Buddhist intolerance and xenophobia has provoked a humanitarian and human rights disaster with an estimated 900 Rohingyas fleeing the country per day. As awful as these examples of ruthless injustice are, perhaps nowhere has intolerance and evil combined to destroy people of faith more than it has in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State is engaged in a systemic effort to wipe out all religious minorities, including Christians.

“Protecting religious freedom around the world must be a top priority of our foreign-policy agenda. On this International Religious Freedom Day, I encourage all who love freedom to speak out against these offenses and stand tall for universal religious freedom. I also pray that, every American finds meaningful time to spend with family and friends in prayer and devotion, and in thanking God that we live in the freest country in human history.”