Mon 15 Jul 2019
By Cara Bentley
The government’s special envoy for freedom of religion and belief, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, has said both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt have shown evidence of personal action on the subject of persecuted Christians.
Last week, an independent review was released about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s support of persecuted Christians globally.
The Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mountstephen, recommended that the government be prepared to use sanctions, that diplomats work with local religious minorities and that civil servants get religious literacy training, among other recommendations.
When asked by Archbishop Angaelos, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in London, how the recommendations of the report would be enacted given the curent political climate, Lord Ahmad said he could assure him that there would be cross-departmental work on stopping Christophobia, a term Mr Hunt announced the FCO would use last week, and that he has confidence both Jermy Hutn and Boris Johnson would apply the Bishop’s advice.
Speaking of the Prime Ministerial candidates, Lord Ahmad said: “I can personally reflect on the two gentlemen who are campaigning to run my party and indeed become the Prime Minister. We haven’t got that much of a wait now, there’s only a week or so. It’s not just words -judging by their actions – the first, the former Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson, actually created and recommended the role of the envoy [pof freedom of religion and belief] within the context of the terms of reference.
“The second, the current Foreign Secretary, initiated the review. It’s often said to judge politicians not by what they say but what they do, and I think you can reflect on both candidates committing to this particular issue and priority.”
Earlier in his answer he said: “Certainly there is a real commitment, as the Foreign Secretary has already made it clear, that the FCO side of the recommendations will be taken forward, but as the Prime Minister’s envoy, I give you assurance that this is going to be cross-government.
“This is a no brainer. This is an issue that impacts us all”.