A group of leading religious freedom and humanitarian relief experts met March 5-7 at Ave Maria School of Law (Florida) to discuss ways to protect persecuted religious minorities in Sub-Saharan Africa amid rising violence. An inadequate response to their plight risks abandoning them to the same devastating fate that Christians and Yazidis have endured in Iraq in recent years. These experts came together to identify a way forward in terms of providing relief and preserving pluralism in the region. Kent Hill, RFI co-founder and senior fellow for Eurasia, Middle East, and Islam, was among those who participated.
Other organizations represented included Aid to the Church in Need, Genocide Watch, Ave Maria School of Law, and the Hudson Institute, while speakers ranged from Congressman Frank Wolf, sponsor of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, to Fr. Joseph Fidelis, a Nigerian priest who spoke of horrific realities on the ground.
Event co-sponsor Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute addressed the urgency of the situation: “ISIS and Al-Qaeda – the same violent forces that brought Iraq’s Christian communities to near-extinction – are now joining efforts against sub-Saharan Christians and we must act before it’s too late.”
Hill expressed the immediate need to act, while also offering grounds for hope: “Aware of the previously good relations of Muslims and Christians in the region, the involvement of the Muslim communities, supporting their Christian neighbors and promoting pluralism is urgent and should be achievable.”
Among the outcomes from the meeting was the establishment of a new international network called, “The Strategy Coalition to Protect Christians and Religious Pluralism in Sub-Sahara,” which will seek “to press for new government policies and humanitarian aid.”
To learn more about the strategy session, read here.