March for the Martyrs DC plans March with Freedom Ennis to focus on religious persecution

(RNS) — Defenders of religious freedom, including basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom, plan to gather at the National Mall this weekend to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.

The Martyrs’ March is scheduled to take place on Saturday (September 24) for the third consecutive year with a special focus on China, said Jia Chacun, founder of the nonprofit Organization For Martyrs.

Other expected speakers include David Carey, CEO of Open Doors USA, and Andrew Bronson, a US minister who survived two years of political prison in Turkey.

Liberty, a Muslim man, has spoken openly about human rights issues in his native Turkey and elsewhere around the world.

Including a speaker with a religious background to Freedom sends a message about the need to build bridges between Christians and Muslims, Chacon told Religion News Service in an email.

Boston Celtics’ Ines Kanter, left, moves against Isaac Bunga of the Toronto Raptors during the second half of an NBA basketball game, October 22, 2021, in Boston. (Photo by Associated Press/Michael Dwyer)

“Having a voice like Freedom Anis Kanter speaking on behalf of the persecuted church also sends a message of peace and unity to Muslims both in the United States and abroad,” she said.

Related: Ines Kanter of the NBA targets China and Nike over the Uyghur genocide

Freedom, who legally added his last name when he became a US citizen last year, shared a post on Sept. 14 denouncing those who remain silent about persecution around the world.

“From the Uyghur Muslims in China who have been imprisoned and forced into detention to the Christian schoolgirls who have been publicly murdered in Nigeria, all people of all faiths are entitled to the same rights, dignity and respect,” he wrote in an opinion piece on Fox News with Tina. Ramirez, a former political advisor to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Jia Chacon.  The image is presented to the martyrs

Jia Chacon. The image is presented to the martyrs

Martyrs’ First March was held in California in 2020, but Chacon, a humanitarian and motivational speaker, moved the event to Washington last year in hopes of attracting more national attention.

“Our goal is to put the issue of Christian persecution at the forefront of the struggle for human rights and solidarity with our persecuted brothers and sisters,” she said. “Christian persecution is a human rights crisis It must be dealt with with the same level of urgency as any other human rights issue.”

Although the march was traditionally designed to encourage Christians to gather in support of persecuted peoples, it received support from the World Council of Imams, an Iraq-based group of Muslim religious leaders from a range of Muslim sects.

Open Doors USA, a Christian watchdog group, has found that more than 360 million Christians worldwide — or one in every seven members of the Christian faith — experience high levels of discrimination and persecution.

Related: Andrew Bronson talks about ‘fighting for my faith’ in Turkey

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