Will Religious Freedom Survive in Northeast Syria?
July 16, 2019 18:00 ET

In the wake of the Syria civil war, Northeast Syria has developed into a semiautonomous zone with a surprising degree of religious freedom for the Middle East. Compared to elsewhere in the region, the Self-Administration of North and East Syria is an anomaly. Its government values religious freedom in a manner similar to the United States, enabling Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities to prosper. A social compact provides equal treatment under the law for different ethnic and religious groups, enabling freedom to begin to flourish in a region often bereft of it. The ability to choose and change one’s religion is protected and openly practiced – even for former Muslims. As religious freedom and democracy are established, long-term regional stability may follow.

Yet this nascent democracy could quickly vanish if the U.S. and its allies fail to make the correct military and diplomatic decisions about the future of Syria. Turkey, the Assad regime, Iran, and potentially a resurgent ISIS all threaten to invade it and impose either a dictatorship or Islamic state. This not only has implications for Northeast Syria, but the safety of Israel and stability of the entire region. This event explores the religious freedom taking root in this region and the foreign policy decisions that could support or destroy it.

Join Family Research Council and Law and Liberty International for this side event to the U.S. State Department's 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. FRC President and USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins will host the event. Travis Weber, FRC's Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, and Lauren Homer, President and Founder of Law and Liberty Trust International, will moderate discussions with two panels of experts.

Speakers and panelists include:

  • Lord David Alton, Former Member of Parliament and Co-Founder of the Jubilee Campaign
  • Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council and Co-head of the Representative Office of the Syrian Democratic Council in Washington, D.C.
  • Sinam Mohamad, Co-head of the Representative Office of the Syrian Democratic Council in Washington, D.C.
  • Haider Elias, President of Yazda
  • His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East for the Diocese of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East
  • Chris Mitchell, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief, Producer Jerusalem Dateline
  • Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, Executive Vice President, Family Research Council
  • Hallam Ferguson, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau at USAID

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