Shalom Life | April 12, 2014

Obama Pledges to Stand Against anti-Semitism [VIDEO]

In a video taken at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama said the U.S. will oppose “blasphemy and defamation of religions measure...”

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: February 7th, 2014 in News » World

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged that America would “...keep standing for religious freedom around the world” and “will continue to stand against the ugly tide of anti-Semitism that rears it’s ugly head all too often.”

Obama added that “blasphemy and defamation of religion measures, which are promoted sometimes as an expression of religion, but, in fact, all too often can be used to suppress religious minorities. We continue to stand for the rights of all people to practice their faiths in peace and in freedom.”

The U.S. President also addressed the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, noting the religious implications to the conflict. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been pursuing further peace talks in the region was thanked by Obama during his speech.

“As we support Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in direct talks, we’ve made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths. I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East. Thank you, John.”

Obama stressed that religious freedom is a freedom the U.S. will always pursue around the world, even when, in his words, “It is not always comfortable to do, but it is right.”

Obama spoke on other matters of religious freedom and their relation to politics:

“When I meet with the President of Burma, a country that is trying to emerge out of a long darkness into the light of a representative government, I’ve said that Burma’s return to the international community depends on respecting basic freedoms, including for Christians and Muslims.”

“I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror,” he said. “I’ve put the weight of my office behind the efforts to protect the people of Sudan and South Sudan, including religious minorities.”

“More broadly, I’ve made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they’re Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, or Baha’i in Iran, or Coptic Christians in Egypt. And in Syria, it means ensuring a place for all people — Alawites and Sunni, Shia and Christian.”

Obama also quoted from the Torah - in addition to other religious texts - saying “Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan,” before referring to Isaiah, saying that “In Isaiah, we’re told ‘to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed.’ The Torah commands: ‘Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.’”

Watch the full speech below:

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