Freedom of Religion and the Right to Be Respected

Ufuk Gokcen, Huffington Post, Jan.22

As the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, I have recently attended for the second year in a row a special commemoration event at the Park East Synagogue in New York in conjunction with the U.N. International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Every year, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the respected and veteran interfaith dialogue contributor, brings together his congregation with the members of the U.N. diplomatic community, including the U.N. Secretary General, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, pay tribute to survivors and underline the commitment of the international community not to allow religious persecution and genocide.

This year, I attended the ceremony with my 12-year-old son out of a deep conviction that we need to educate the new generations on the merits of human dignity, respect for the other, co-existence and the horrible consequences of hatred. It is our responsibility to utilize the opportunities that interfaith and faith based civil society has to develop early childhood multi-culturalism and peace-building programs. Would it not be encouraging to see individuals, families and civil society partner together to educate the next generation on human dignity and respect?

As President Obama reminded us in his recent proclamation of U.S. Religious Freedom Day, religious liberty is a universal human right to be protected as an essential part of human dignity and without it our world cannot know lasting peace. I personally see the freedom of religion as an important component of the “right of every individual to be respected.”

Read the complete article here.