- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2019

President Trump hosted 27 survivors of religious persecution from 17 nations Wednesday in the Oval Office, telling them that they are witnesses “to the importance of advancing religious liberty all around the world.”

The survivors included American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was jailed in Turkey for about two years until the Trump administration secured his freedom in October 2018.

“Each of you has suffered tremendously for your faith,” the president told the gathering. “In America, we’ve always understood that our rights come from God, not from government.”

Mr. Trump said no other president has taken the issue as seriously as he has.

“The world is a tough place, and we’re making good strides,” Mr. Trump said.



Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, said the administration will announce “additional measures” on religious freedom efforts on Thursday, plus speeches by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Brownback highlighted some of the individuals in the room, including a woman who was held in a Sudanese jail while pregnant, a man who was present at the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a woman who had been taken hostage by the Islamic State. Also present was 88-year-old Irene Weiss, a Holocaust survivor originally from the former Czechoslovakia.

Several people thanked Mr. Trump for his efforts. Among the countries they represented were Burma, Yemen, China, Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, Pakistan and Iraq.

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