Britain must champion religious freedom abroad – and at home

Aug 1, 2021 by

by Saqib Bhatti, Conservative Home:

Freedom is something that has been spoken a lot about in recent weeks and months. Many of us may have even enjoyed a highly anticipated ‘Freedom Day’.

Of course, the end of lockdown was a significant moment for so many in this country. However, around the world we can find countless instances of men, women and children robbed of the most basic freedoms with no roadmap or exit strategy in sight.

In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of the Covid measures we saw in the UK was the closure of places of worship, particularly for people of faith during their holiest times such as Easter, Ramadan, Passover, Eid and Diwali. The loss of congregation was devastating for many communities and as a man of faith myself, it brought into sharp focus what life is like for those who are never allowed to practise their faith in public or in private.

It is an unfortunate fact that in the 21st Century, having the basic right to practise your religious beliefs freely is still not a given right in certain parts of the world. The rights of people of faith to practise their own religion are being seriously curtailed by the closure of places of worship, the persecution of religious minorities and the systematic killings of minority populations.

I am pleased that in the UK, it is our Prime Minister who has demonstrated that promoting respect between religious communities is a key priority for the Government overseas. We have seen the important role played by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion of Belief.

But as a recent Human Rights Report by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office highlights, there is still much more to be done to ensure that people of faith around the world are truly free to express themselves.

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