Congleton MP Fiona Bruce leads calls for religious freedom in Afghanistan

  Posted: 14.09.21 at 16:30 by Alexander Greensmith

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Congleton's MP had led calls for religious freedom in Afghanistan, as the Taliban has taken over the country.

As well as being a perceived threat to the whole population, the Islamist group could particularly threaten the thousands of non-Muslim Afghans that are still in the country.

While 99.7% are Muslim, there are some very small residual communities of other faiths, including Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Baha'i.

Fiona, in her capacity as the UK Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, has co-signed a joint international statement on the situation in Afghanistan.

The full statement, published by the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance and signed by Fiona, is below, which was published to her website.

"As members, friends, and observers of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, we call on all parties in Afghanistan to work in good faith to establish an inclusive and representative government, with the meaningful participation of women and minority groups, including members of religious minority groups, that respects the rights of all individuals.

"We hold grave concerns for the human rights of the people of Afghanistan and in particular for members of religious minority groups who are at risk, including Shi’a and Ismaili Muslims, Hazaras, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, non-believers, and others.

The 64-year-old MP has been the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief since December 2020. (Image - Chris McAndrew)

"We call upon all parties and international agencies to recognise the vulnerabilities of these individuals being targeted because of their faith or belief.

"We call for adherence to obligations under international human rights law, including the rights of members of religious minority groups, and obligations under international humanitarian law.

"We affirm our enduring commitment to the people of Afghanistan, including through a renewed humanitarian effort by the international community."

The letter was signed by the following countries, including Congleton's MP; Albania, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sovereign Order of Malta, Sweden, United Kingdom Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the United States.

The Scottish-born parliamentarian for Congleton has served our town since her election in 2010.

Her Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief role is her first other position in parliament, aside from her MP role.

Please Click here to learn more about Fiona's other job.

In other Afghani-Congleton news, our town could house Afghans as Cheshire East Council has backed the government's resettlement scheme for those who fled the Taliban regime.

Fiona recently returned to parliament and voted on two important social bills.

She voted aye for an Elections Bill which bring photo ID's into voting booths, which some will argue could prevent the poorest in society from voting.

She also voted for the Health and Social Care Levy, which led to a rise in national insurance.

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