Schedules were full at Day Two of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the State Department. Participants were divided into one of three tracks:
- Track One — Building Blocks for Advancing Religious Freedom
- Track Two — Emerging Trends in Religious Freedom
- Track Three — Religious Freedom in Development and Humanitarian Assistance
A variety of topics was covered in more than 30 general and breakout sessions. The conversations ranged from how to combat the rise of anti-Semitism, documenting atrocities, and the role of journalism in international religious freedom to the fragmentation of religious minority communities, innovation and technology in global development, and the economic and security benefits of advancing religious freedom.
International Religious Freedom Award
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented the first-ever International Religious Freedom Award to advocates of religious freedom: Mohamed Yosaif Abdalrahan of Sudan, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi of Nigeria, Ivanir dos Santos of Brazil, William and Pascale Warda of Iraq, and Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud of Cyprus. You can read their stories here.
“I’m especially honored tonight to share the stage with the men and women who have demonstrated how much each one of us is capable of in advancing this noble shared cause,” said Pompeo at the cermony.
He added, “If the future of religious freedom rests on solid ground, it’s because of people who are sharing the stage with me tonight. They’ve risked their own reputation, their personal comfort, their own well-being, and in some cases even their lives to help strangers, many of whom practice faiths that are different from their own.”
Other Notable Quotables
“Give the fight for religious freedom its proper priority; not peripheral but central…Religious liberty is an essential part of a decent and humane society.” — former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
“Oppressors of religious freedom fear the written word.” — Tom Gallagher, President and CEO, Religion News Foundation
“We can arrive at perfection when we encourage faith in human dignity.” — Pascal Warda, 2019 International Religious Freedom Award recipient and president of Hammurabi Human Rights Organization
“Journalists can (and should) report gaps between rhetoric and action.” — Mindy Belz, Senior Editor World Magazine
“Although it will take decades to overcome the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, I believe that behind the scenes, unrelenting pressure can have some immediate effects.” — Farahnaz Ispahani