WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken marked the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia on Wednesday, saying each person has the freedom to manifest their beliefs.
“Every person, everywhere has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including the freedom to change their beliefs or not believe,” Blinken said in a statement.
“Each person also has the freedom, either individually or in community with others, in public or private, to manifest those beliefs in worship, observance, practice, and teaching,” he said.
Blinken said Muslims around the world too often face discrimination and hatred based on their religious beliefs. March 15 is a day that is the first of its kind declared by the UN in 2022.
The day also marks four years since the terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers and injured 40 others.
“On this day, we call attention to people around the world who are harassed, detained, imprisoned, or even killed for identifying, practicing, converting to Islam or being perceived as Muslim.
“The United States will continue to advocate for individuals’ ability to live in accordance with the dictates of their consciences and speak out on behalf of those who have been denied the ability to do so,” said Blinken.
“As Muslims worldwide prepare for their holy month of Ramazan, a time of fasting and caring for communities, let us here in the United States and abroad, work to combat this hatred,” he said
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