Muslims worldwide too often face discrimination and hatred based on their religious beliefs. Last year, the United Nations declared March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. This date also marks four years since the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. On that day, a gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in two mosques and injured another 40.
Every person, everywhere has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including the freedom to change their beliefs or not believe. 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.
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. As the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief told the Human Rights Council in 2021, “Institutional suspicion of Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim has escalated to epidemic proportions.”
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. As Muslims worldwide prepare for their holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and caring for communities, let us here in the United States and abroad, work to combat this hatred.