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Religious freedom fundamental American value: Blinken at Diwali reception

Religious freedom is the fundamental American value and supporting it is a priority for US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a Diwali reception hosted by him.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at George Washington University in Washington, Thursday, May 26, 2022, outlining the administration's policy toward China at an event hosted by the Asia Society. AP/PTI(

Press Trust of India Washington
Religious freedom is the fundamental American value and supporting it is a priority for US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a Diwali reception hosted by him.
Blinken made these comments on Wednesday, while addressing an impressive gathering of Indian Americans, including community leaders and those serving in the Biden administration.
Religious freedom is an invaluable part of the United States diplomacy because it actually helps us build bonds with other nations and with people around the world, he said.
Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, and supporting it is a priority for President Biden, Blinken asserted.
One way that we show our support religious diversity is through helping preserve vital pieces of cultural heritage around the world. Through efforts like the US Ambassadors Fund for cultural preservation, we're helping restore damaged historic buildings or helping to recover lost or stolen cultural objects, like paintings and sculptures, he said.
In February, he said, the US government recovered a 500-year-old stolen statue of Hanuman, a Hindu deity, and returned it to the Indian government, Blinken noted.
Another way that we demonstrate our support for religious freedom is through celebrations like this one, he noted.
Diwali or Deepavali is a festival that marks the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
This was the first time that the Secretary of State was hosting a Diwali reception at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
Diwali is a celebration of the most sacred values, love of family, kindness toward loved ones and strangers alike, forgiveness, grace, new beginnings. The holiday also reminds us of the importance of dharma, good conduct, both in individual interactions and through service to our communities, Blinken noted.
That final obligation of spreading light is maybe more important than it's ever been. So, even as we celebrate tonight, we remember those around the world who were not able to freely celebrate their cultural and religious holidays even in the face of challenges, he added.
Ajay Tejasvi from Art of Living Foundation chanted a prayer, before Blinken lit the traditional diya at the reception.
M R Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, said the Indian diaspora in the US has grown in size and influence, and it is gratifying to see how Diwali is now being celebrated on a national scale across the country.
From the Times Square to the new World Trade Centre to Washington, DC and beyond, he explained.
Rashad Hussain, United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, in his remarks said the US called for religious freedom for every individual.
Religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution is core to our mission. We continue to work every day to advance this freedom around the world. This mission includes our advocacy for Hindu communities, in countries like Pakistan, and in Bangladesh, where earlier this year I had a chance to visit a temple in Ghazipur that was attacked during the Durga Puja. We are inspired by those who have shown incredible strength and assured hospitality even in the face of tragedy, he said.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden had on Monday hosted the biggest-ever Diwali reception at the White House.
Last Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris had hosted a reception with the community leaders at her Naval Observatory residence.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Oct 27 2022 | 10:46 AM IST

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