Greece Joins US-Led International Religious Freedom Alliance



Greece is among 27 nations which will participate in the nascent, US-led International Religious Freedom Alliance (IRF), which will adopt a collective approach in protecting and preserving religious freedom across the world.

According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who addressed the group during the formal launch of the organization, the IRF is an alliance of “like-minded partners who treasure, and fight for, international religious freedom for every human being.”

Other prominent countries to join the alliance are Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Israel, Ukraine and the Netherlands.

“Defending the right of all people to live their lives according to their conscience is one of this administration’s top priorities,” Pompeo said in his remarks. “Indeed, we must affirm, and fight for, that truth now more than ever. More than eight in ten people in the world today live where they cannot practice their faith freely,” the Secretary said.

“We condemn terrorists and violent extremists who target religious minorities, whether they are Yazidis in Iraq, Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in northeast Nigeria, or Muslims in Burma,” Pompeo declared.

“We condemn blasphemy and apostasy laws that criminalize matters of the soul. We condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s hostility to all faiths. We know several of you courageously pushed back against Chinese pressure by agreeing to be part of this Alliance, and we thank you for that,” the top American diplomat said.

The Alliance’s “Declaration of Principles” incorporates several reactive and proactive measures that the members of the organization are to adopt in order to promote and protect the right of freedom of religion and belief for all.

Furthermore, the IRF will undertake targeted actions to fulfill their purpose, including “regular monitoring, reporting, information-sharing and outreach to impacted individuals and faith communities” and “support for victims, such as through redress, resettlement, or other actions as appropriate.”

The new international organization will also use what it termed “targeted sanctions against perpetrators” while also training law enforcement officials and “building the capacity of national human rights institutions” in the places where religious freedom is under threat.

Secretary Pompeo additionally stated that in cooperation with the civil society of these areas, the organization will also stress “investment in projects to protect space for civic engagement by assisting human rights defenders and victims of persecution, as well as to build societal resilience.”