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Religious Freedom

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the treatment of (a) converts to and (b) adherents of Christianity in (i) the Middle East and (ii) elsewhere. (302684)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our embassies overseas regularly report and lobby on human rights issues, including freedom of religion or belief.

Our embassies have recently lobbied on the challenges facing non-Islamic faiths in Algeria, analysed the Egyptian authorities’ record on promoting and protecting the rights of Christians in Egypt, and encouraged the Government of Iraq to protect all communities regardless of political, ethnic or religious affiliation. Outside of the middle east, we remain concerned about the suppression of religious freedoms in countries such as China, North Korea and Uzbekistan. We raise these concerns in our regular human rights dialogues with China, and with other Governments at appropriate opportunities.

The UK strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to manifest one’s religion or belief, the right to change one’s religion or belief and the right not to hold any religious belief. We work closely with EU partners to promote freedom of religion or belief as part of our wider support for human rights. In November, the European Council reaffirmed its strong commitment to freedom of religion or belief and the importance of EU action to promote and protect it.