CSI Urges Obama to Provide Major Funding for Religious Freedom Initiatives in the Middle East

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International  (CSI-USA), today wrote to President Barack Obama, calling on him to include the protection of religious minorities in his plan to aid and promote the democratic transformation of the Middle East and North Africa.

Last month, the President - in his major address entitled A Moment of Opportunity  - announced a comprehensive financial assistance plan intended to promote democracy and freedom throughout the region. The members of the G8 followed President Obama's lead by pledging a minimum of $20 billion for that purpose.  

Eibner asked the President to require that 25% of that aid be used to fund new programs aimed at preserving the freedom of non-Muslim minorities living in that part of the world.

"Democracy cannot be achieved without religious liberty," Eibner wrote, "and religious liberty cannot be achieved when culture is permeated by the spirit of religious intolerance. The tragic reality is," Eibner added, "that Muslim supremacism prevails as a cultural norm from Pakistan in the East to Morocco in the West."

Two staunch allies of the United States, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and former Lebanese President Amine Gemayal, have protested against what they call respectively a process of "religious cleansing" and "genocide" against the region's beleaguered Christian population.

Eibner encouraged President Obama to take the following steps to promote religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa:

1) Allocate at least 25% of all pro-democracy funding to programs designed to combat religious intolerance and supremacism;

2) Establish a high level interagency task force to develop a new policy for the promotion of religious liberty and multiculturalism in the Middle East;

3) Work with regional governments to provide security for the houses of worship and other facilities used by religious minorities;

4) Dispatch Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith McHale, to the Middle East to ascertain the situation of the non-Muslim minorities;

5) Appoint a senior statesman to the post of Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom; and

6) Support the amendment of the International Religious Liberty Act, as proposed by Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chris Smith.

"In the current crisis," Eibner observed, "it is neither in the long nor the short term interest of the United States to barter away the rights of the region's vulnerable religious minorities."

Contact: Val Sawelenko, (805) 777 7107

SOURCE Christian Solidarity International (CSI)



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