Former head of 2014 Peace Award organisation to speak at Malta launch of ACN’s 2016 Religious Freedom in the World report

The 13th edition of the Religious Freedom in the World report, produced by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will be launched in Malta on 25 November 2106. The official launch will take place in St Anthony Chapel (Russian Chapel) at San Anton Palace under the distinguished patronage of the President of Malta, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.  Mons. Charles Cordina, Episcopal Vicar for Diaconia, will attend on behalf of the Archbishop who has a prior pastoral engagement.

The Keynote Speaker, Syrian priest Fr Ziad Hilal SJ, is coming to Malta to speak at the launch. His talk will cover the situation in Syria, his experiences with displaced families and those who have suffered continuous attacks for the past 5 years in Homs and Aleppo. Fr Hilal was a former Project director in Homs from 2012 – 2015 of Jesuit Refugee Services, which was awarded the Pax Christi International Peace Award in 2014 for its emergency relief work in Syria. Fr Hilal is the current coordinator of Aid to the Church in Need’s humanitarian projects in Syria and Lebanon.

The biannual ACN report, which assesses the situation regarding religious freedom in each of the world’s 196 countries, draws on research by journalists, academics and clergy. The 2016 edition warns of the global buy ambien online impact of “a new phenomenon of religiously-motivated violence”, particularly Islamic. Countering the popular view that governments are mostly to blame for persecution, the report puts the blame on non-state militants in 12 of the 23 worst-offending countries.

However, not all problems regarding religious freedom are to do with militant Islam. A “renewed crackdown” on religious groups was reported in China and Turkmenistan and an ongoing denial of human rights for people of faith in worst-offending countries North Korea and Eritrea. Nor is the outlook universally bleak – looking at Bhutan, Egypt and Qatar, countries notorious for religious freedom violations, the report found that the situation had improved for faith minorities during the period under review.

The other problem highlighted in the report is that Western policy makers frequently just disregard religion and need to rethink their whole outlook. “It’s no longer compatible to say that traditional faith practice belongs to the past when the evidence shows that for millions and millions of people – a new generation – religion is at the centre of their lives, driving everything they do.”

ACN Malta is appealing to administrators of all Band Clubs, local councils and other public buildings to illuminate the facade on 25 November between 7.00pm – 10.00 pm as a gesture of solidarity with all the Christian martyrs who died for their faith in Jesus Christ.