FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, ON – David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands and Official Opposition Critic for International Human Rights and Religious Freedom; Garnett Genuis, Member of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and Deputy Critic for International Human Rights and Religious Freedom; Kelly Block, Member of Parliament for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek; and David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Flamborough—Glanbrook, invite Canadian parliamentarians to highlight religious persecution around the world by marking International Religious Freedom Day on October 27th, 2016.
“Freedom of religion or belief is one of the world’s most fundamental freedoms,” said David Anderson. “Sadly, over three quarters of the world’s population is faced with some sort of persecution for their beliefs. This is an unacceptable statistic which demands a strong response from lawmakers who have the freedom to speak out and act.”
Every October 27th, parliamentarians and civil society from around the world attempt to generate greater public interest in the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief for all. To that effect, parliamentarians are encouraged to make public statements, meet with the diplomatic officials of countries with clear threats to religious freedom, and hold their own governments to account on their respect for freedom of religion or belief. Garnett Genuis noted that given the increased frequency and violence of religious intolerance, much of which occurs in countries with close diplomatic ties to Canada, parliamentarian-to-parliamentarian dialogue is the key to progress.
“Canada has long been a vigourous defender of the right to belief for all people,” said Genuis. “Ambassador Andrew Bennett and the Office of Religious Freedom was a powerful voice that turned talk into action – directly benefitting the lives of the persecuted.”
“This, along with Dr. Bennett’s chairmanship of the International Contact Group on Religious Freedom, was something the international community truly valued,” added David Sweet.
Kelly Block expressed hope that this year’s International Religious Freedom Day will mark the start of a more concerted and day-to-day effort among Canadian MPs to celebrate and protect the right to belief. “With the closure of the Office, it is now up to us as individual MPs to give freedom of religion or belief the global attention it deserves,” she said.
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