August 22 is celebrated as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The United Nations Organization encourages all member states and international organizations to celebrate the day in such a way as to raise social awareness of the phenomenon of religious persecution, the scale of which is increasing throughout the world. This concerns in particular violence against Christians.
According to the report of The Pew Research Center Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. The research indicates that acts of persecution of Christians were committed in 108 countries throughout the world in 2014, in 128 countries in 2015, while in 2016 christianophobia spread to 144 countries. The incidents in question included discrimination, verbal abuse, physical assaults, arrests and destruction of places of worship. The report of the Open Doors foundation confirms these conclusions. The data gathered by this organization show that monthly an average 345 Christians die for reasons associated with their faith, 105 churches and other Christian buildings are burned or attacked, 219 Christians are held without trial, arrested, condemned and imprisoned.
Visible hostility towards Christians in the world is growing from year to year. It transpires through acts of vandalism, arson, burglary, theft, sometimes also physical aggression and violence against the clergy or the faithful. Crosses and statues of saints are toppled; the Eucharist is desecrated. Christians are beginning to struggle with marginalization and hostility caused by their faith and convictions held. Violations of the religious freedom, the freedom of speech, the academic freedom, the freedom to contract which affect Christians or are specifically targeting them are becoming more and more widespread not just in other European countries but in Poland as well.
The UN resolution which introduced the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief aims to draw attention to the fact that the problems of violence and aggression due to religious reasons are of international nature and that it is the obligation of states to undertake steps assuring a more effective control and verification of observance of human rights in terms of religious freedom. The goal is to counteract aggression and acts of violence motivated by religious or confessional prejudice and to undertake every kind of assistance and victim support possible.
In the adopted document the United Nations point to a growing number of acts of religious intolerance and violence against members of religious communities and minorities throughout the world and the increasing intensity of such incidents which are frequently criminal in nature. The resolution decisively condemns continued violence and acts of terrorism and expresses regret regarding all acts of violence motivated by religious or confessional prejudice and all such acts directed against homes, businesses, real property, schools, culture centers and places of worship as well as attacks against people, religious sites and temples.
The Director of the Ordo Iuris Institute Center for Religious Freedom, Ms. Karina Walinowicz stated that: “The adoption of the resolution on the forum of the United Nations is undoubtedly a very important signal that the suffering of victims of religious persecution has been noticed and their unique meaning in the fight against violations of human rights throughout the world was clearly underscored. This gives hope that with the increase of social awareness their situation will start improving.”
Announcing the celebration of the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief the United Nations General Assembly reminded that the states bear the main responsibility for promotion and protection of human rights including the rights of members of religious communities such as the right to free expression of religion or beliefs.
Acts of violence or hatred against Christians in Poland could be reported to the Ordo Iuris Institute Center for Religious Freedom at cwr.ordoiuris.pl.
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