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US Officials Reiterate Commitment to Religious Freedom Abroad E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Wednesday, 10 November 2010

In a press briefing Monday, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley suggested that a deadly attack on a Christian church in Iraq should not be construed as a broad campaign of persecution (an argument made more questionable after yet another attack on Christians today), and that the American effort in that country remains committed to religious freedom for all:

QUESTION:  Are you concerned about the targeting of Christian Arabs in a number of countries, whether it’s Iraq or --


MR. CROWLEY:  I mean, let’s be careful about taking one tragedy and then making too broad a statement about it.  Are we concerned about religious freedom in the world, including in the region?  Absolutely.  This is a significant area of focus for us.  We are concerned when anyone of any religion is attacked based on their beliefs.  Everyone should have the right to freedom of religion, to practice as they see fit.  And we think this is enshrined in universal rights that are – should be available to all citizens of the world.


So – but we spoke out very significantly last week at – when – during – in the aftermath of this tragedy and we continue to do whatever we can to help promote religious tolerance in Iraq and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, President Obama continues to emphasize that America's foreign policy engagements are not motivated by a religious perspective, and that diversity is a core democratic strength. In an address during his trip to Indonesia, the President remarked:

Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism.  I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam.  Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion –-- certainly not a great, world religion like Islam...
I believe that the history of both America and Indonesia should give us hope.  It is a story written into our national mottos.  In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum -- out of many, one.  Bhinneka Tunggal Ika -- unity in diversity.  (Applause.)  We are two nations, which have traveled different paths.  Yet our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag.  And we are now building on that shared humanity -- through young people who will study in each other’s schools; through the entrepreneurs forging ties that can lead to greater prosperity; and through our embrace of fundamental democratic values and human aspirations.


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