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11/17/2011 Washington, D.C. (ICC Press Release) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) may permanently close its doors tomorrow unless Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois releases the “call back” he has placed on the commission’s reauthorization. For over a decade, USCIRF has been instrumental in investigating and reporting on issues of religious freedom worldwide, calling on foreign governments to address violence against religious minorities and urging the U.S. government to promote religious freedom through its foreign policy.
The bill, which includes authorization for funding USCIRF another two years, H.R 2867, has already passed the House of Representatives and was set to unanimously pass the Senate when Sen. Dick Durbin issued a call back on the legislation. A vote cannot take place until the senator releases his call back. At the time of writing, Sen. Durbin’s office had not responded to a request for comment.
The only other hope for the survival of USCIRF after this Friday night rests in Congress passing a continuing resolution which would keep funding for USCIRF precariously in place for another month. If Congress fails to pass a continuing resolution, then USCIRF will be permanently closed and its staff, representing years of cumulative experience on issues of religious freedom, will be forced to join the ranks of the unemployed.
International Christian Concern’s Advocacy Officer, Isaac Six, said, “The loss of the U.S Commission on International Freedom is a blow to the cause of religious freedom worldwide. At a time when reports of violent attacks against religious minorities occur almost daily, the United States can ill afford to silence one of the greatest voices speaking out against such intolerance. Nothing less than our international reputation as the champion of religious freedom and human rights is at stake, and the thought that a single senator may compromise that reputation is disturbing, to say the least.”
ICC is urging readers to call Senator Dick Durbin’s office immediately at 202-224-2152 and to ask him to release his call back on H.R 2867.