Pence on New Religious Freedom Initiatives

Aug 6, 2018

Many believers of different faiths have suffered grievously at the hands of ISIS, including Muslims, Christians, Druze, and others, said Vice President Mike Pence at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

But perhaps no faith community has been so systematically and cruelly targeted by ISIS as the Yazidis. Four years ago, ISIS entered the Sinjar region of Iraq, killing or kidnapping many Yazidi men, women, and children. Nadia Murad, who spoke at the Ministerial, said that in her village, ISIS slaughtered more than 600 Yazidi men and boys, including six of Nadia's brothers and stepbrothers.

An Iraqi Christian who lives in Lebanon holds a placard during a sit-in, in front of the United Nations. (File)
An Iraqi Christian who lives in Lebanon holds a placard during a sit-in, in front of the United Nations. (File)

Then they kidnapped Nadia and all the young women, and subjugated them to the most degrading form of human slavery. She was only able to escape because her captor left a door unlocked, and a neighboring family hid her until she could be smuggled to safety.

Many Yazidi girls weren't so lucky. Thousands remain missing to this day or remain in ISIS captivity. The suffering of the Yazidi people has sickened the American people and mobilized the United States to action.

Ensuring that ISIS is defeated remains an urgent priority for the Trump Administration, and the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS will not stop until this enemy has been eliminated. Thanks to these efforts, ISIS' so-called caliphates in Iraq and Syria have collapsed, and “we will not rest or relent until ISIS is driven from the face of the Earth,” declared Vice President Pence.

Retaking territory is only half the battle. That's why the United States has already devoted more than $110 million to support persecuted religious communities across the Middle East.

Vice President Pence announced the United States will establish the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program. Under this new program, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will closely partner with local faith and community leaders to deliver aid to persecuted communities, beginning in Iraq.

The United States is also launching a new International Religious Freedom Fund that will leverage our resources, together with funds from other nations, to support those who fight for religious freedom and suffer from religious persecution.

“Together,” said Vice President Pence, “we will champion the cause of liberty as never before, and I believe that our combined leadership will make a difference for freedom of faith, for generations to come.”