22 August – International Day of Remembrance for Victims of Violence for Religious Purposes or Beliefs

22 August – International Day of Remembrance for Victims of Violence for Religious Purposes or Beliefs

The UN Assembly established it in May 2019 at the proposal of Poland, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria and Pakistan in accordance with the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, of conscience and religion and because it is ‘deeply concerned that throughout the world members of religious communities and minorities continue to be the target of manifestations of intolerance and acts of violence because of their religion or belief, and that such actions are increasingly serious, often of a criminal nature and with common features‘.


According to the United Nations today, the Muslim Rohingya ethnic group is the most persecuted in the world. Men and women forced to live in overcrowded camps, without the right to medical care and instruction, who cannot own anything or have more than two children.

Last May, however, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom included India at the lowest level of “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report, alongside countries including China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The tendency of society or groups within society to alienate or repress religious belief is a recurring theme in human history. Forms of persecution are also present in states where, although religious freedom is formally recognized, some groups are popularly considered unacceptable. Today, the spread of nationalism and fundamentalism threatens human dignity on a global scale.
Perhaps this is why the UN Assembly underlines the responsibilities of Heads of Government in promoting and protecting the human rights of persons belonging to religious minorities, including the right to practise or manifest their beliefs in complete freedom’ and stresses the importance of global preventive action at the local level, involving a wide range of parties, including civil society and religious communities.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue and understanding in the promotion of a culture of peace is one of the missions of Pope Francis who has repeatedly called for an end to the instrumentalisation of religions to incite violence. He expresses this with great passion and determination in the Document on Human Fraternity written with the Great Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the “invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people of good will”.

Historical investigation into the persecutions of christians in the first century after christ.
If Christianity survived six persecutions in the first century A.D., it means that Christians had an unshakable faith; and their unshakable faith could not fail to be based on historical facts; that is, on the certainty that Jesus of Nazareth had predicted that he would rise again, had died crucified, then appeared to many speaking with them and then ascended to heaven.
The first persecution was against the Greek-speaking Hellenistic Christians of Jerusalem in 32-33 A.D., in which Stephen died. (At 6,8 – 8,3).
The second was ordained by Herod Agrippa I in 41-42 A.D. and in the course of it James, brother of John, who was with his brother John and Peter one of the three disciples closest to Jesus, was killed, and Peter was arrested, who was then made to flee. (At 12,1-17).

The third persecution was against the converted believers in Christ of Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-10; 1 Thess 2:14-16), which the above sources place around 50 AD, but which according to some exegetes (who consider 1 Thess 2:13-16 an addition to Paul’s original text) is to be placed after 70 AD; in this persecution Christians were led before the Romans and accused of participating in an anti-Roman rebel movement, because they claimed that the true king was Jesus and not the emperor (Acts 17:7).
The fourth persecution was ordered by the high priest Anan II in 62 AD and struck among others the head of the Jerusalem community, James, the brother of the Lord (Joseph Flavius, Ant. XX,200-203; Egesippus, quoted in Eusebius, Hist. etcl. II,23,3-18; Clement Alexandrian, quoted in Eusebius, Hist. etcl. II,1,5; 23,3; Eusebius, Hist. eccl. II,23,1-2; Rec. I,66-71; II Revelation of James VII-VIII).
The fifth persecution was the one ordered by Nero and lasted from 64 to 68 A.D. (Clement Romano, 1 Clement 5,1-7; Tacitus, Annales XIII-XVI; Suetonius, Black; Dione Cassius, Hist. LXI-LXIII; Tertullian, Apol. 5,3; Eusebius, Hist. etcl. II,25,1-3.5).
The sixth persecution was that under Domitian in 95-96 A.D. (Suetonius, Dom. 15-17; Dione Cassius, Hist. LXVII,14; Tertullian, Apol. 5,4; Irenaeus, Adv. haer. V,30,3; Lactantius, De mort. pers. 3; Eusebius, Hist. Etc. III,17; 18,4; cf. Rev 1,9).