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February 7, 2014 10:45 am
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Obama Pledges to ‘Stand Against Ugly Tide of Anti-Semitism’ (VIDEO)

avatar by Joshua Levitt

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. Photo: Screenshot.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday said America “will keep standing for religious freedom around the world” and “will continue to stand against the ugly tide of anti-Semitism that rears it’s ugly head all too often.”

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, in Washington, Obama said the U.S. will also oppose “blasphemy and defamation of religion measures, which are promoted sometimes as an expression of religion, but, in fact, all too often can be used to suppress religious minorities.”

“We continue to stand for the rights of all people to practice their faiths in peace and in freedom,” he pledged.

According to a transcript, he also addressed the religious implications of the ongoing talks to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that is being doggedly pursued by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, whom he thanked by name.

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“As we support Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in direct talks, we’ve made clear that lasting peace will require freedom of worship and access to holy sites for all faiths. I want to take this opportunity to thank Secretary Kerry for his extraordinary passion and principled diplomacy that he’s brought to the cause of peace in the Middle East.  Thank you, John.”

He said that religious freedom is something the U.S. pursues around the world even when, “It is not always comfortable to do, but it is right.”

“When I meet with Chinese leaders — and we do a lot of business with the Chinese, and that relationship is extraordinarily important not just to our two countries but to the world — but I stress that realizing China’s potential rests on upholding universal rights, including for Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, and Uighur Muslims,” Obama said.

“When I meet with the President of Burma, a country that is trying to emerge out of a long darkness into the light of a representative government, I’ve said that Burma’s return to the international community depends on respecting basic freedoms, including for Christians and Muslims.”

“I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror,” he said. “I’ve put the weight of my office behind the efforts to protect the people of Sudan and South Sudan, including religious minorities.”

“More broadly, I’ve made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they’re Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, or Baha’i in Iran, or Coptic Christians in Egypt. And in Syria, it means ensuring a place for all people — Alawites and Sunni, Shia and Christian.”

The President also quoted the Torah, along with other religious texts. “Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan,” he said.  “In Isaiah, we’re told ‘to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed.’ The Torah commands: ‘Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.'”

Watch a video of the President’s remarks below:


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