250 Muslim and evangelical leaders issue declaration calling for Christian protection from persecution

Christians abandon their homes in Iraq to escape violence from Islamic State militants.Reuters

Around 250 Muslim and evangelical leaders recently assembled in Morocco to issue a declaration of religious freedom, calling on Muslim nations to defend Christians against persecution.

The Muslim religious leaders, scholars and heads of states released the Marrakesh Declaration, a groundbreaking document that seeks to put an end to the mounting violence towards Christians in Muslim countries.

"We call upon the various religious groups bound by the same national fabric to address their mutual state of selective amnesia that blocks memories of centuries of joint and shared living on the same land," it says, CBN News reported.

"We call upon them to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring our shared trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression."

The gathering was made possible through the peace efforts of Bob Roberts, pastor of Northwood Church in Texas, who travelled to Morocco with over 250 Muslim religious leaders to release the declaration.

Roberts has reportedly been forming strategic relations with Muslim leaders. Together with his friend, "Imam Muhammad Magid, he initiated and hosted the October "Spreading the Peace Convocation" that saw the gathering of more than 200 imams and evangelical pastors.

"It was a time to 'build bridges' and 'share mutual concerns,'' he said, acknowledging that how the Christian majority treats minority Muslims in the U.S affects how the Muslim majority treats the Christian minority in Muslim countries.

"This is a Muslim conference put together by the top sheiks, ministers of religion, the grand muftis of the top Muslim majority nations, and they came up with a declaration, literally using the language of religious freedom to declare that violence cannot be done in the name of Islam," said Roberts.

Open Doors reported that violent Islamic extremism will be the "lead generator of persecution for 35 out of 50 nations" on the 2016 World Watch List, and that Christian persecution in Muslim nations "has risen to a level akin to ethnic cleansing."

The Marrakesh Declaration is based on Muhammad's Charter of Medina, a seventh century document instructing how to govern a religious pluralistic state. It borrows ideas from the charter like "principles of constitutional contractual citizenship" and "freedom of movement, property ownership, mutual solidarity and defence, as well as principles of justice and equality before the law,'' according to reports.

The declaration is meant to challenge Muslim leaders to actively fight against extremism in their own countries but does not grant religious liberty protection to non-Muslims against blasphemy or apostasy—crimes that notoriously lead to death penalties for Christians, CBN News said.