WASHINGTON – Trump administration officials condemned antisemitism and defended religious pluralism at a ministerial on religious freedom on Thursday.
The high-level conference, hosted by the State Department, included addresses by Vice President Mike Pence and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
“Those nations that reject religious freedom breed radicalism and resentment in their citizens,” Pence told the gathering. “They sow the seeds of violence within their borders.”
“Those who deny religious freedom for their own people have no qualms trampling upon the rights of other people.”
The ministerial brought together foreign ministers, heads of religious and civil society organizations and survivors of religious discrimination “to combat religious persecution,” according to the State Department.
It was the first event of its kind.
The Trump administration has yet to appoint a special envoy to combat antisemitism, a congressionally mandated State Department position.
In his remarks, Pence warned of rising antisemitism in Europe, singling out Britain, France and Germany for increased incidents.
“In Europe, where religious freedom was born as a principle and is enshrined in law, sadly, religious intolerance is on the rise in many quarters. Just 70 years after the Holocaust, attacks on Jews, even on aging Holocaust survivors, are growing at an alarming rate.
“Last year, hate crimes against Jews hit a record high in the United Kingdom. And in the same period of time, there were an average of nearly four attacks against Jews every day,” the vice president added. “In France and Germany, things have gotten so bad that Jewish religious leaders have warned their followers not to wear kippahs in public for fear that they could be violently attacked, and in too many cases, that’s exactly what’s happened.”