Unprecedented meeting on religious freedom

Lawmakers from around the world meet in New York to talk about persecution and the refugee crisis

By Emily Belz | World News Group


Attendees at the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief in New York

NEW YORK–As hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa pressed into Europe, parliamentarians flew to New York from all over the world for an unprecedented gathering to address rising threats to religious freedom.

International religious freedom meetings typically draw a handful of niche enthusiasts; the unusual international interest this time, especially from European lawmakers, centered on threats from ISIS.

On Friday, the international lawmakers packed a room at the One UN Hotel across from the United Nations. Organizers from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) thought they could get a group of 30 or 40 parliamentarians, but they filled every seat with 130 attendees and had to turn away another 30.