To those Americans and Christians unaware of the struggle of Egyptian Copts, minority Christians, and minority members of religious groups around the world, their struggle for human rights, dignity, and safety is a real one. The protection of these universal human rights are a shared struggle that we must have with minority Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and other brothers and sisters – who are oppressed around the world EVERY DAY. These minority rights for religious freedom and freedom of conscience of beliefs around the world – are not just minority rights – they are HUMAN RIGHTS. They are universal human rights that apply to all of our brothers and sisters around the world.
Supporters of the volunteer human rights group Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) have stood shoulder to shoulder supporting and praying with members of such minority groups, whose freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, dignity, safety, and lives have been constantly threatened. This is not the challenge for individual religious leaders. This represents a consistent threat to the universal human rights entitled to every human being.
We have stood by our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters over the years, as they have been oppressed, threatened, attacked, kidnapped, houses of worship violently attacked, and murdered. We have stood by our Pakistan Christian minority brothers and sisters, whose children have been attacked, women arrested, and churches burned. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim brothers and sisters, when they have been attacked and threatened, their mosques attacked, their beliefs defiled, when they have been victims of terrorism in the United States and around the world. We have stood by our Jewish brothers and sisters as they have been attacked with venomous Anti-Semitism in this country, around the world, and as Israel has been violently attacked. We have stood by our Hindu brothers and sisters when they have fled for safety due to their religious oppression, and when their young women have been kidnapped, forced to deny their religion, and Hindus have been injured and killed. We have condemned and prayed with our Sikh brothers and sisters as they have been the victims of hate violence in the United States and around the world. We have stood by our Buddhist brothers and sisters in their call for peace and call for the right to practice their traditional religions in Asia. We have stood by the practitioners of the Falun Gong when they have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed in China.
There is no nation without a record and history of minority religious oppression, so let us remember that such abuses happen everywhere, and must be confronted everywhere, just as our human rights apply everywhere.
After the Holocaust and the defeat of Adolf Hitler, the nations of the world banded together to form the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), setting a world standard to guarantee universal human rights, freedom of conscience, dignity, safety, and respect for people around the world, of every nationality and every religion.
When we see hate and violence – we must point to our shared commitment as human beings to such universal human rights – everywhere and without exception. It is the second part of this which confuses some people. They want to believe in such universal human rights – for themselves, for their identity group. But universal human rights apply to all of our brothers and sisters in humanity.
Our universal human rights also include our freedom of speech and our freedom of press. We may disagree with things that people say and write, but we must be consistent on our freedoms.
But freedom of speech and press is also a two way street. We too have the right to express ourselves. We have a right to call for peace and patience around the world, despite the loud voices that call for conflict and violence. To those of us who care deeply about the fate of Coptic Christian minorities, we also have the responsibility to disagree with those have created films that would make hateful comments against Islam. A commitment to human rights is not a mandate to attack others’ religions. Oppression does not justify venomous films that will spread hate and incite anger among many. We have our free speech, which we also share, and in our support of human rights, we disagree with such speech and such actions. At one Coptic rally at the White House three years ago, I met Morris Sadek, one of the reported promoters of this agitprop video on Islam. I am shocked, distressed, and discouraged by his actions and those of others in promoting this YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims.” It is wrong, counterproductive to anyone’s human rights, and I know that there are many leaders in the Coptic Christian community that spoke out against this film and these actions. Let us be clear, such actions will not promote human rights, will not promote freedom of conscience and religion, and will not help those genuinely oppressed religious minorities, such as the Coptic Christians.
The response to religious oppression anywhere in the world – should never be hate.
There is a real global problem with religious oppression around the world. Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) will continue to stand by our brothers and sisters in the Coptic Christian community, just like we do in the worldwide Christian community, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Falun Gong, and other communities to respect their universal human rights – without exception anywhere in the world.
Christian life is not cheap. But that is because no one’s life is cheap. We are all special and unique individuals, entitled to human liberty, human rights, safety, and human dignity. Those who ask if promoting videos of hate are Christian actions, should merely reflect on the commandment by Jesus Christ to “love one another.” This is the position that members of all religions of peace must take in responding to extremist views – anywhere in the world.
We stand by our brothers and sisters in humanity, and we have confidence that the minority of extremists and those stained by the disease of hatred, will ultimately be overshadowed by the bright light of our love, respect, trust, and hope in the dignity, decency, and love that we can find in humanity.
Choose Love, Not Hate. Love Wins.
Be Responsible for Equality And Liberty.
Hate Hurts Us All
We can choose another direction. Choose Love, Not Hate. Love Wins.