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Open Doors welcomes new Freedom of Religion or Belief lead within government


06 July 2018

Open Doors welcomes the appointment of Lord Ahmad as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Dr Matthew Rees, Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor at Open Doors, said, “Open Doors enthusiastically supports the creation of this role and has been urging for greater government leadership on this issue for many years. Open Doors has been working to see Freedom of Religion or Belief mainstreamed across government – this appointment is a significant step forward.

“If Lord Ahmad is given the right resources, capacity and mandate to co-ordinate a strong government response to Freedom of Religion or Belief issues and tackling religious discrimination, then this will be a huge step forward in Open Doors’ campaign to see Freedom of Religion or Belief prioritised across government.

“I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has made this appointment. Open Doors has been working hard to lobby the PM on this issue. In December 2017, Open Doors CEO, Lisa Pearce and Father Daniel, from Iraq, met with the PM to discuss issues facing Christians in Iraq and Syria. Since then Open Doors have continued to lobby on this issue. MPs have asked questions at Prime Minister’s Questions. Open Doors has also worked hard to lobby Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development ministers and civil servants.”

The government said that the role demonstrates the Prime Minister’s commitment to religious tolerance, and that it will allow Lord Ahmad to demonstrate the country’s commitment to religious freedom and help tackle religious discrimination in countries where faith groups face persecution.

Open Doors research shows that in the top 50 countries where Christians are targeted because of their beliefs, there are over 200 million Christians living with persecution every day. Hostility takes many forms, from insults and abuse, to discrimination in education and the workplace, to outright violence.

“I hope that this new role has a visible impact for those around the world suffering persecution for their faith,” said Dr Matthew Rees.

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