The Third Annual Prayer March Against Persecuted Christians and Jews will be held Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 3:30PM EDT at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, Florida. See our NER/Iconoclast announcement of the first Prayer March Against Christian Persecution, held May 17, 2014, here. See our June 2014 NER International Round Table Discussion on Global Christian Persecution with March organizer, Pastor Bruce Lieske , Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff Austrian Human rights advocate and Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, free speech advocate and Sharia versus Jewish Halacha law expert.
The news release by the Prayer March organizers, Pastor Lieske and Alan Kornman, noted the schedule of events and panel discussions over the weekend of April 16-17th:
Mayor Buddy Dyer has signed a proclamation designating Sunday, April 17, 2016, as “3rd Annual Prayer March for Persecuted Christians and Jews Day in the city of Orlando.” Religious persecution of Christians and Jews in many places across the globe is a problem of epidemic proportions which has not been fully recognized in the United States. The march begins at 3:30 p.m. at the band shell on Lake Eola. It is sponsored by Burning Bush Ministries to raise awareness of the plight of the persecuted, mobilize the power of prayer both for the persecuted and their persecutors, and to provide information concerning channels for assistance.
Signs will be distributed highlighting various forms of persecution. The prayer march will circle the lake ending at the band shell. At 5 p.m. an international group of speakers will share their personal experiences with persecution in its various forms ranging from violence to loss of personal liberty. The presentation will include remarks by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff; an Austrian citizen who experienced the effect of political correctness codified into law, and Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, a well known activist for free speech.
This program will be preceded at Trinity Lutheran Church (123 East Livingston St.) on Saturday evening April 16, beginning at 6:30 p.m. by a panel discussion of ways to address persecution followed by a question and answer session. Invited members of this panel will include Senator Alan Hays, who promoted Florida’s support of American Law for American Courts (ALAC)
For background on the enactment of the Florida version of ALAC see our June 2014 NER article, “Yasmeen’s Law: A Victory for Human Rights in Florida“.
Persecution of Christians and Jews was heightened by the January 2015 Paris Charlie Hebdo satiric journal and Kosher Supermarket attacks, the November 2015 Paris Massacres and the March 2016 Brussels airport and Metro attacks in which hundreds of Christians and Jews were killed and injured by Al Qaeda and ISIS terror cells.
2.5 million Jews see no future for themselves and their children in Europe
Surveys of Jewish Communities in France, Britain and Germany attest to the fear of Islamic terrorism and uncertainty of continued protection by national governments of their homes, synagogues and communities.
- 58 percent of British Jews surveyed felt they might have no long-term future in Europe;
- 45 percent felt their family was threatened by Islamist extremism; and
- 2,500 French Jewish millionaires left in2015 for Israel or America because of rising religious tensions and deadly attacks by Muslims, especially in urban areas.
40 percent of respondents said that anti-Semitism poses a serious threat to the future of Jewish life in their country in a poll of European Jewish leaders published in March 2016 by the International Center for Community Development of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Jews in Paris, Toulouse, Brussels and Copenhagen have been murdered by Muslim émigrés, Al Qaeda and Islamic State returning veterans
Estimates drawn from several EU Surveys indicate that 150 million of the 400 million EU population harbor anti-Semitic views:
- Hate crime incidents at five year high in Germany…. There were 1,596 recorded hate crimes against Jewish people last year in the country, the highest level since 2009 and a greater level than recorded in any other EU state;
- 815 incidents in France – double the year before, and this prior to January 2015 Kosher Supermarket and November 2015 Paris massacres; and,
- Police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland recorded 318 hate crimes against Jews in 2013-14, an 89 per cent increase over the previous year.
Data from the 2014 ADL Global 100 Anti-Semitism survey for Major European Jewish communities show:
- There are 38 anti-Semites for each Jew in France;
- 161 anti-Semites for every Jew in Germany; and,
- 14.5 anti-Semites for every Jew in the UK.
Most troubling EU and Belgian Surveys indicate that Muslims are 8 times more likely than non-Muslims to espouse Anti-Semitism.
The Orlando Prayer March will doubtless draw attention to the continuing genocide by the Islamic State against Syriac and Assyrian/ Chaldean Christians and other religious minorities finally recognized in a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry on March 17, 2016. Nina Shea, executive director of the Hudson Institute Center for Freedom in a report cited his remarks:
Secretary of State Kerry took to the podium and asserted: “In my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions — in what it says, what it believes, and what it does.” This official American genocide designation is a critically important step. Genocide is internationally recognized as the most heinous human-rights offense. Legally, it is known as the “crime of crimes.” And while the Genocide Convention does not prescribe specific action to “prevent and protect” against genocide, the conscience does.
However, Shea drew attention to what had to be done:
- Refugee-resettlement visas: Christians from Syria have been grossly underrepresented in the numbers resettled in the U.S. from that country — only about 60 Christians and 1 Yazidi over five years of Syria’s conflict have been given U.S. resettlement visas. In Iraq, most of the Christians and Yazidis are displaced in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they do not have resettlement rights. Because they technically remain in Iraq, they cannot claim refugee status and therefore are not included in refugee-referral programs. This de facto discrimination must end for these genocide victims, many of whom are too traumatized to ever return to their homes. In the event that their areas are not liberated, they all will have to be resettled in the West.
- Land and property restitution: These minorities lost their homes, businesses, and farms to ISIS, and others have now taken possession of them. Governments must be pressed to give priority recognition to titles of the genocide victims.
- A place at the peace table: Christians are currently excluded from the Syrian peace talks, at which, eventually, borders will be redrawn and constitutions drafted. Their voices need to be included, lest they be marginalized in, or even shut out of, whatever replaces the old Syria.
- Humanitarian aid: Many of these genocide victims are now displaced from their homes. They cannot seek shelter in U.N. camps, because those places are too dangerous for minorities — and therefore they must depend heavily on church and private relief. Even as donor fatigue sets in as the conflicts persist, U.S. aid programs must ensure that these genocide victims are not shortchanged.
- Reconstruction aid: If and when they do return to their homes after the defeat of ISIS, the genocide victims will need help in reconstructing their houses, towns, and churches. America’s reconstruction aid to Iraq after the military surge was largely diverted away from the Christian areas by national and local governments. The U.S. government must recognize the specific challenges facing these minorities and provide greater and more direct help and greater transparency and oversight on their behalf. Secretary Kerry’s fine words, “What Daesh wants to erase, we must preserve,” cannot be made a reality without this. These issues are urgent.
The situation on the ground is dire. And the U.S. government will soon be in transition. A policy road-map and action to implement it cannot wait.