Religious Persecution Must End

Saanich-Gulf Islands Member of Parliament and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has given her consent to a unanimous consent motion for a “take note” debate in Parliament on the threat to Coptic Christians in Egypt.  “It is important that as Canadian Parliamentarians we make time to discuss religious persecution occurring globally and do what we can to halt these terrible practices,” said May.

“Take note” debates generally don’t come to a vote but are a chance for Members of Parliament to make their views known on a specific policy issue.  This particular debate is prompted by the violence earlier this month in Egypt when 27 Coptic Christians were killed and hundreds injured during a military crackdown on protesters.

“The Coptic Christians in Egypt, the Baha’i in Iran, the Ahmadiyya in West Java, Tibetans in China—there are way too many examples that we can cite.  Canada must stand as a nation and say, this is not acceptable in our world,” said May.

Coptic Christians make up almost ten percent of Egypt’s population but they are denied the right to have places of worship.  In Iran, people of the Baha’i faith are routinely thrown in jail and harassed.  In Indonesia, the Ahmadiyya face attacks, intimidation, property destruction, and the closure of their places of worship.  The Chinese government’s repression of freedom of religion in Tibet is longstanding.

“Freedom of belief is a fundamental human right that includes freedom from pressure to renounce your faith.  So many around the world are deprived of any protection for freedom of thought and religion, it is up to the international community to work together to solve this issue,” said May.

The Canadian Committee on Foreign Affairs has been examining a motion adopted by the House on October 17th that asserts Canada stands in solidarity with religious minorities around the world and particularly Coptic Christians.  “What we need is an international outcry and we need the United Nations to conduct full investigations into these terrible acts of repression,” said May.

Full text of Parliamentary Motion:

That this House stand in solidarity with those religious minorities around the world and strongly condemn the vicious attacks on Egyptian Coptic Christians and their institutions; call on the Egyptian Government to ensure that the perpetrators of the attacks be brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law; and, ask the United Nations Human Rights Commission to conduct an open and transparent investigation into the plight of Egyptian Coptic Christians and issue a public report on its findings.