As religious extremists strike in Nigeria, the 7th World Congress for Religious Freedom ends on a note of resolve

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In Nigeria on April 26 the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram claimed its latest victims of religious intolerance with the suicide bombing of a newspaper office, while on the same day--half a world away in the Dominican Republic--almost 900 religious freedom advocates from around the globe vowed to renew their efforts to fight religious discrimination and violence.

Nigel Coke from Jamaica was one of almost 900 delegates from more than 60 countries attended the 7th World Congress for Religious Freedom in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Nigel Coke from Jamaica was one of almost 900 delegates from more than 60 countries attended the 7th World Congress for Religious Freedom in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

I have seen how the efforts of individuals, faith groups and non-governmental organizations can save lives, change laws, and expand religious freedom.

In Nigeria on April 26 the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram claimed its latest victims of religious intolerance with the suicide bombing of a newspaper office, while on the same day-- half a world away in the Dominican Republic--almost 900 religious freedom advocates from around the globe vowed to renew their efforts to fight religious discrimination and violence.

The three-day 7th World Congress for Religious Freedom ended Thursday with a program honoring men and women who have “walked the extra mile for religious freedom.” International Religious Liberty Association President Dr Denton Lotz, General Secretary emeritus of the Baptist World Alliance, urged the diverse group of government officials, NGO representatives, faith leaders and activists to fight for religious freedom for all people, everywhere, no matter what their faith tradition.

Knox Thames, director of policy and research for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom told attendees earlier in the week that despite the continuing human rights crisis in many parts of the world, he has seen first-hand how the efforts of individuals, faith groups and non-governmental organizations “can save lives, change laws, and expand religious freedom.”

César Pina Toribio, Secretary of State for the Dominican Republic, also attended the final session of the 7th World Congress, telling attendees that his nation shares their commitment to preserving and promoting freedom of religion.

Pina Toribio conveyed greetings from Dominican Republic president Leonel Fernandez. Pina Toribio said there is a clear, sincere, and permanent space for religious liberty in his country. He congratulated the Congress on its success, and thanked the organizers for their work in raising awareness about the vital role that freedom of conscience plays in building a strong, peaceful nation.

“The Dominican Republic is a pluralistic society, and we want to do all we can to further good relations between religions, and to ensure that all religious groups receive equal treatment,” he said.

The 7th World Congress for Religious Freedom took place in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, April 24 to 26. It was the first World Congress to be held in the Inter-America region and the largest IRLA Congress to date, with almost 900 attendees and guests from 65 countries. It was organized and sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association—a non-sectarian organization, chartered in 1893, dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of religion for people of all faiths.

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Bettina Krause

(Español) Silvestre Gonzàlez
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