Almost 30 victims of religious persecution from 18 countries met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office Wednesday, receiving an unprecedented platform through the U.S. State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held this week in Washington, DC.
Jewher Ilham was one of those who met with Trump and she shared the plight of her father, a Uighur scholar sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for speaking out against the Chinese communist government. She also spoke with the president about the estimated 1 million or more Uighur Muslims that the regime has rounded up and put in “re-education camps” where evidence exists of torture and organ harvesting.
“That’s tough stuff,” Trump said on Wednesday in response to Ilham’s account about the camps and her jailed father, Ilham Tohti.
“Americans will never tire in our efforts to defend and promote religious freedom,” Trump said. “I don’t think any president’s taken it as seriously as me.”
Breitbart News reported on Ilham’s remarks at the ministerial on Tuesday where she spoke about the freedoms she has enjoyed since coming to the United States, including freedom of speech and freedom to practice Islam openly.
“There was no such freedom for Uighurs in China — not at the school where my father was a professor, not in public, not even in a private house,” Ilham said. “Instead there are signs on the street reminding Uighurs that they are not allowed to be visibly Muslim.”
Ilham now lives in the United States and recently graduated from Indiana University.
Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback also attended the meeting and noted the United States is leading the way in pursuing religious liberty around the world under Trump’s leadership.
“The president also heard accounts from Yuhua Zhang, a practitioner of the spiritual movement Falun Gong whose husband is detained in China, and Nyima Lhamo, a Tibetan Buddhist whose uncle died while imprisoned in Sichuan,” the South China Morning Post reported.
“Also at the gathering was a survivor of March’s mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, a member of the Iraqi Yazidi minority who survived months of captivity by Islamic State in 2014,” the Post reported.
“The Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom brings together leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges facing religious freedom, identify means to address religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and promote greater respect and preservation of religious liberty for all,” the ministerial website states. “This event focuses on concrete outcomes that reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom and produce real, positive change.”
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