Appoint a Qualified Special Envoy for Religious Freedom, Mr. President

o3President Obama’s rhetoric on religious freedom and actions reflect a disparity in priorities. Throughout the summer we have seen a literal genocide targeting all religious minorities in Iraq unfold. There is a plethora of videos and reports depicting the barbaric slaughter of Christians, Yazidis, and Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq. Most of the minorities fortunate enough to escape left with only the clothes they were wearing and had all possessions of value stolen by these terrorists. Some of these refugees have died of thirst and starvation on Mt. Sinjar while Western governments and the United Nations have vacillated on an appropriate response.

President Obama signed a bill into law which provides for the appointment of a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia on August 8, 2014. The bill sat unsigned for 10 days which is not a lot of time. But, considering the dire state of religious minorities worldwide and the President’s statements on the topic, one would think he could have made time to keep the process of appointing a Special Envoy moving forward.

Now that he has signed the Special Envoy bill, the president needs to immediately appoint a qualified Special Envoy who can work alongside the newly appointed Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi Saperstein. The Special Envoy is tasked with promoting religious freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia, the region of the world that is experiencing the greatest threats to religious freedom and cost of human lives through religiously motivated attacks. The Special Envoy will have access to the President and ensure the needs of religious minorities are included in top-level national security and foreign policy discussions. The Special Envoy also has a critical role in helping address urgent needs of minorities according to their religious identity. Thus, the Special Envoy would assist with issues such as the refugee crisis of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, and the on-going socio-economic predicament associated with these displaced religious minorities who no longer have a means to earn an income.

It is critical that a Special Envoy be appointed to address these issues in concert with the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom who, as the head of the Office of International Religious Freedom, oversees the annual monitoring of religious freedom worldwide and will also be engaging in diplomacy in support of these minorities. The US Representatives and Senators who drafted this legislation envisioned two individuals focusing on different aspects of religious freedom issues, working harmoniously together to better integrate and prioritize the promotion of religious freedom in US foreign policy, recognizing the key role of this first freedom.

Unfortunately, President Obama doesn’t have a particularly good track record of acting on behalf of persecuted minorities. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 6, he said, “I look forward to nominating our next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom to help lead these efforts.  And we’re moving ahead with our new strategy to partner more closely with religious leaders and faith communities as we carry out our foreign policy.” Yet, Obama left that very same position vacant for over nine months.

The ongoing genocide against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, as well as increasing attacks and limitations on religious freedom for minorities in places such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Libya demonstrate a clear need for the administration to act quickly in defense of religious minorities by appointing a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia.

The Special Envoy should have demonstrated policy and diplomatic experience, specifically in the field of international religious freedom, not just an interest in this area or religious leadership experience. The candidate should have a reputation for collaborative and professional efforts in the promotion of religious freedom and already be acquainted with the major players in this field. Individuals such as Dr. Katrina Lantos-Swett (Mormon), Dr. Robert P. George (Christian), or Dr. Zuhdi Jasser (Muslim) of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom would all fit the criteria and each have a different faith background from the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom, Rabbi Saperstein. There are a number of other individuals in this field who have the requisite experience. There is no reason the position should be filled as soon as possible.

Lindsay Vessey is a human rights activist and the director of the Coptic Solidarity organization in Washington.

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  • Capt Bob

    As long as it is Muslins that the President wants help for. Christians are out of luck.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    While I support protecting innocent infidels of all stripes whether they be Jews, Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., I don’t support chasing hydra-headed terrorists in the deserts, because for one Muslims are not terrorists, but instead jihadists that are fighting a holy war against any and all infidels both violently and non-violently in the cause of Allah to ultimately make Islam and its followers supreme.

    Thus, unlike most neo-cons who view Obama as somehow causing us to lose Iraq, I understand we didn’t have anything to lose over there in the first place, as lifting up Muslims, as GWB stupidly tried to do, in essence was lifting up our eternal mortal enemies.

    Moreover, although we are fighting a so-called “War on Terror”, Muslims are not terrorists, as that notion is exceedingly fantasy based, and unless we go after the ideology, which is mainstream orthodox Islam, that is at the root of the problem, then Iraq and Afghanistan won’t be our only catastrophic strategic blunders.

    In other words, we need to elect leaders who can see the world with crystal clear moral clarity, and who that is at the moment, I don’t know. But nevertheless we can’t continue on making strategic blunder after strategic blunder like we have been doing under both GWB and Barack Obama.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Throughout the summer we have seen a literal genocide targeting all religious minorities in Iraq unfold.

    Not only in Iraq and Syria, but in also Israel too, as the Jews in Israel are targeted infidels as well.

    Indeed, the sole fundamental purpose of mainstream orthodox Islam is the subjugation of all infidels and all religions into Islamic totalitarianism through both violent and non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad and the eventual imposition of Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law, to ultimately make Islam and its followers supreme throughout the world.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Now that he has signed the Special Envoy bill, the president needs to immediately appoint a qualified Special Envoy who can work alongside the newly appointed Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi Saperstein.

    Oh my God, a Special Envoy on International Religious Freedom? Give me a fricking break. I can’t believe I’m actually reading something so stupid on FPM. Apparently, the writer doesn’t have the first clue what Islam is or what we are up against. In other words, this writer is almost as naïve and clueless as our inglorious President.

    I’m afraid we need far more than just a silly Special Envoy. What we need is for the entire infidel world to unite together to fight and destroy Islam once and for all, whatever that takes.

  • Gloria Stewart

    First let me address Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. He has become a spokesperson for a moderate Islam, one allegedly capable of embracing liberal democracy. There may be moderate Muslims who are moderate for any number of reasons – the list is too long to address here. There is no moderate Islam. I do not know the degree of Dr. Zuhdi’s sincerity nor does it matter. If he is looking for a version of Islam that makes freedom possible, he is engaged in a unicorn hunt, and we had best leave him alone to do it.
    A former Muslim would make an excellent choice, and there are many. Muslims do not belong in a forum on any kind of freedom any more than Communists or Nazis do.
    Actually the world has seen literal genocide for 1400 years courtesy of Islam. While the Koran forbids the killing of Muslims by Muslims there is an easy way around that. Takfir is an Arabic word that means literally excommunication. It is used as an accusation of apostasy by one Muslim (or a group) and means that the person(s) so accused is no longer a Muslim and therefore fair game. As a matter of fact, more Muslims have been killed by fellow Muslims than by non-Muslims.
    I realize that a great deal of pro forma activities, formation of groups, rhetoric, etc. goes on in politics. But let us go immediately to the bottom line. The only language Muslims understand is deadly force, and we had better find leaders who understand this.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Zudhi Jasser is a non-violent stealth and deceptive jihadist. He is very good at duping gullible useful idiot infidels. There are no so-called moderate Muslims since a so-called moderate Muslim is a blasphemous apostate that per the dictates of Islam must be executed.

      Nonetheless, the proposition and the position are ludicrous and a testament to the naivety of people who should know better with respect to Islam and the threat to the entire infidel world it presents.

      There is only one way to solve the infidel world’s collective Islamic problem and that is to collectively destroy Islam utterly. Otherwise, look forward to a world filled with jihad, as this is just the early stages of Islam’s resurgence.

  • Pete

    Linked cartoon is devastating

    “This Should Get President Obama’s Attention”

    warnewsupdates.blogspot.com/2014/08/this-should-get-president-obamas.html

  • USARetired

    If I am not mistaken you are wasting your time attempting to to get this Muslim, Obama, to do anything like you are suggesting!