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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Gov & Politics

Mike Johnson decries antisemitism, urges protection of Uyghurs in China

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson rejected antisemitism and called on the Biden administration to fully enforce the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act during brief remarks to the International Religious Freedom summit on Wednesday.

The Louisiana Republican also argued that God, not the government, provides American citizens with their rights and that those ideas are reflected in the First Amendment as well as other documents like the Declaration of Independence.

“These ideals come from the self-evident truth that men and women are created by God and that it is God, not the government, that gives us our rights,” Johnson said.

Anytime a government removes its citizens’ ability to freely practice their religion, Johnson said, “it moves beyond its sphere of jurisdiction and it becomes tyrannical.”

“When religious freedom is taken away from people, political freedom soon follows,” Johnson said. “We know that that is the lesson of history.”

Johnson then rebuked governments around the world that he said don’t allow religious freedom or where people have experienced violence for practicing as they wish, including China, Cuba, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria and North Korea.

“Uyghur Muslims are suffering under the Chinese Communist Party’s genocidal campaign of forced sterilization, forced detention and reeducation,” Johnson said. “Millions of Uyghurs have been detained in these camps, where they’re kept in cramped cells, and they’re tortured and brainwashed.”

Johnson said that the Biden administration must “fully enforce the letter and the spirit” of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a law that passed both chambers of Congress on voice votes and was signed by President Joe Biden in 2021.

The law required the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force to work toward ensuring “that goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part with forced labor in the People’s Republic of China, including by Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tibetans, and members of other persecuted groups in the People’s Republic of China, and especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, are not imported into the United States.”

Speaking at the summit, Johnson said people should “use all of our resources to prevent American involvement in Uyghur genocide,” noting that the United States has sought to prevent genocides since the Holocaust.

“Sadly, the same antisemitism that led to the Holocaust is now being spread through new tools and once again rearing its ugly head,” Johnson said. “Since Hamas slaughtered thousands of Israeli citizens on October 7, we’ve seen a frightening, seemingly coordinated rise of antisemitism including here on our own shores, and it’s been alarming.”

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