Open Doors welcomes the appointment of Rehman Chishti MP as the new Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief. Chishti has long been a campaigner on the issue of freedom of religion, and his appointment to this role will give him greater opportunities to champion those who are persecuted or vulnerable to persecution because of their faith.
Earlier in the year, we asked Open Doors supporters to call on the new Prime Minister to make this role permanent and develop its scope. This was one of the three key recommendations we made following the publication of the Foreign Office’s review into the government’s response to the persecution of Christians worldwide. The response was brilliant, with thousands of supporters contacting their MPs about this pressing issue.
However, there is still space for the role to develop, and it is crucial that Mr Chishti has the resources he needs to work closely with civil society, and that he is involved in any future trade deal negotiations. Trade relationships of this sort should ensure that freedom of religion is considered, rather than being thought of as irrelevant or an afterthought.
Dr Matthew Rees, Open Doors Head of Advocacy, recently met with Mr Chishti. He said: “It was excellent to meet with Mr Chishti and to see the energy he is bringing to the role. It was very encouraging to discuss creative ideas around how the envoy can work with Open Doors and civil society more widely to promote freedom of religion or belief across the world.”
At the meeting, Dr Rees was also able to tell Mr Chishti more about Open Doors’ ongoing See. Change. campaign, that aims to restore the hope, dignity and identity of women who are doubly at risk of persecution because they follow Jesus.
We look forward to seeing how the recommendations of the report will be put into practice, and how this role can bring real and lasting change to our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.