Persecution based on religious belief is unacceptable, says Pope


Vatican City – Everyone has the right to freely profess their own religious beliefs without fear of coercion, Pope Francis said, calling on the world community to do more to protect the Yazidi minority.

“It is unacceptable that human beings are persecuted and killed because of their religion,” he told a group of Yazidis during a private audience at the Vatican on January 24.

The Yazidis are a monotheistic religious minority, indigenous to the regions of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. They were particularly persecuted by Islamic State activists, who, like Christians, forced them to convert or to be killed.

He told the representatives, who were now living in Germany, that his meeting with them was also a sign of his solidarity and concern for all Yazidis, especially those in Iraq and Syria.

His thoughts and prayers went to all “innocent victims of senseless and inhuman barbarism”, stressing that everyone has the right “to freely and unconstrained profess their own religious belief”.

The Pope said the rich spiritual and cultural history of the Yazidis has been marked by “indescribable violations of basic human rights: kidnappings, slavery, torture, forced conversions and murders”.

“Your shrines and places of prayer were destroyed,” he said, and those who were lucky enough to have been able to flee had to leave so much behind them, including what they considered most. holy and dearest.

Aware of this tragedy, “the international community cannot remain a silent and inert spectator”.

He encouraged organizations and “people of good will” to help rebuild destroyed homes and places of worship and to seek concrete ways to create conditions conducive to the return of people to their countries of origin.

He also said he hoped everything would be done to help rescue those still in the hands of terrorists, locate those still missing, and properly identify and bury those who were murdered.

All over the world, he said, there are religious and ethnic minorities – including Christians – who are persecuted for their faith.

“The Holy See will never tire of intervening by denouncing these situations, by calling for the recognition, protection and respect” of minorities as well as by calling for dialogue and reconciliation, he declared. .

“Once again I speak in favor of the rights of the Yazidis, especially their right to exist as a religious community. ,'” he said.

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