Pyatt: Where religious freedom is not protected, violent extremism likely to take root

In regions where religious freedom is not protected, instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism are more likely to take root, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt said on Monday in remarks at the 2nd International Conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East”, held in Athens.

“As President [Donald] Trump has highlighted, ‘From the beginning, America has been a place that has cherished the freedom of worship…Our goal is to achieve a better tomorrow-one where good people of all faiths, Christians and Muslims and Jewish and Hindu, can follow their hearts and worship according to their conscience,” he said.

Pyatt quoted comments made by State Secretary Rex Tillerson on the presentation of the 2016 International Religious Freedom Annual Report to note US commitment in continuing the country’s work with regional partners to protect religious minority communities from terrorist attacks and to preserve their cultural heritage.

“Where religious freedom is not protected, he added, we know that instability, human rights abuses, and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root,” the ambassador said.

He concluded by presenting a short video message from the US Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia, Knox Thames.