This issue represents a number of significant changes for the International Journal for Religious Freedom. There have been some major changes in the leadership of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF), the research institute that publishes this journal. One of the founders of the IIRF was appointed the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. Dennis Petri has been appointed the new International Director of the IIRF and has ambitious plans to develop the institute. We have interviews with both Thomas Schirrmacher looking back on his years with the IIRF, and with Dennis Petri looking forward to a new vision for the institute. Also, after seven issues catching up with back issues, this issue represents the final “catch up” issue.
The theme of this issue “The 21 Martyrs” reflects the seriousness of the moment of 21 Coptic Christians being executed for their faith on a beach in Libya. The event was filmed and spread around the world. Two resources countering the ISIS narrative are addressed in this issue. In 2019, a book was published, which is reviewed by Paul Rowe. Second, Mark Rogers, a film producer, is working on an animated film to be released in 2023 on the 21 Martyrs. The cover photo is from the film. These resources paint a very different picture than the ISIS video and reveal 21 heroes of the faith who died on that beach.
The articles in this issue cover a broad diversity of geographical locations and perspectives on persecution. Two articles address theological issues. One addresses a methodological issue. Two articles focus on legal issues, one national and one international. One article focuses on describing the persecution of a religious minority. Another suggests that organized crime can be an engine of persecution. And finally, an article examines religious education. The articles address persecution in China, France, Myanmar and Mexico.