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Africa and Middle East

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 222675, tabled on 29 January 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps his Department has taken to tackle the persecution of Christians in (a) Africa and (b) the Middle East.

Answered on

3 February 2015

The promotion and protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief is one of the UK’s human rights priorities. We regularly urge foreign governments at senior levels to uphold the rights of all minorities; work to build international consensus on freedom of religion or belief; and support practical projects on community dialogue with civil society and faith groups.

An example of our lobbying in Africa was the case of Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for apostasy. The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), the Secretary of State for International Development, my right hon. Friend the member for Putney (Ms Greening) and the Minister for Africa my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Sounthend East (Mr Duddridge) all publicly condemned her sentencing, and called on the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief and international human rights laws. Following UK and international pressure Ms Ibrahim was subsequently released.

We are deeply concerned by the difficulties facing many Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East and deplore all discrimination and constraints on freedom of religion.

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