The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill, authored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Joe Pitts (D-PA), condemning Iran’s mistreatment and sentencing of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.
Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for the crime of apostasy after converting to Christianity. According to an Ellison news release, Iran is a member of the United Nations and a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to change religion and worship freely.
"The case of Pastor Youcef has united us because religious freedom is a fundamental human right," Ellison said during the bill’s presentation. "We find in Pastor Youcef a humble man who refuses to disavow something he has found to be true, even if it means paying the ultimate price."
"As we seek to protect the human rights of Pastor Youcef and all Iranians, we must not pursue a course of action that could degrade their human rights further," Ellison added. "I have been deeply troubled by the recent talk of war with Iran. We must not forget that war is the ultimate human rights disaster. It could seal the fate of Pastor Youcef and so many other prisoners of conscience inside Iran."
In Memory of Gujarat, India Riots
Days following the 10th anniversary of the violent communal riots in Gujarat, India, Ellison submitted a resolution that would memorialize the thousands who were killed and displaced.
A train filled with Hindu pilgrims returning from the holy site Ayodhya was set on fire by a mob of Muslims, killing 59 people. According to a Global Post article, the backlash of that incident resulted in communal riots during which mostly Hindu mobs tore through Muslim houses and businesses, sometimes burning them down with the occupants inside.
The Illinois-based Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, showed their support in a news release Friday. IAMC also held candelight vigils throughout the country Friday and Saturday in observance of the anniversary.
Women’s History Month
Ellison released the following statement Friday on Women’s History Month:
“During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the enormous contributions of women to our country’s progress and reaffirm our commitment to equal rights, dignity, and opportunity for women in Minnesota, America, and the world.
“Since our nation’s founding, women have led the charge to make our nation live up to the promise of liberty and justice for all. The Twin Cities, in particular, were in the vanguard of the women’s suffrage movement. Through their activism, suffragette leaders like Harriet Bishop and Clara Hampson Ueland paved the way for generations of women who followed. Today, Minnesotan women continue to lead in fields ranging from business to the arts to public service.
“But in the face of current attacks on women’s health, we are reminded of the ongoing struggles women face. According to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, women still earn less than 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. The divide is even greater for women of color. African-American women earn 61 cents on the dollar and Hispanic women earn just 51 cents.
“I will continue to stand up for equal rights. Women deserve leaders who are committed to liberty and justice for all.”