Coptic Solidarity Applauds Passage of Special Envoy Bill for Religious Minorities in Middle East

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Coptic Solidarity applauds the US Senate for passing S. 653, yesterday, which provides for the creation of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia.  This region is currently experiencing a cleansing of religious minorities and in particular, Christians, in countries such as Iraq and Syria.

The bill passed last night through a unanimous consent agreement.  It will now be sent back to the House to be reconciled with HR 301 after which it will be sent to President Obama to be signed into law.  The Special Envoy bill was introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) with original co-sponsors Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The House version of this bill, HR 301, passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in a vote of 402 to 22 on September 18th. It was sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) with original co-sponsor Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). 

Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Mike Lee (R-UT) had both placed holds on this bill preventing it from being scheduled for a vote.  Coptic Solidarity, along with other NGOs, launched grassroots advocacy campaigns and engaged in quiet diplomacy to press for the passage of this bill. Issues were finally resolved with these two senators allowing this critical piece of legislation to reach a vote. 

Coptic Solidarity urges President Obama to sign the reconciled version into law as soon as the House and Senate finalize it. We also urge the President to immediately appoint a candidate to fill this important position. 

Coptic Solidarity recently concluded its 5th Annual Conference in Washington, DC focused on the theme After Arab Spring, Middle East Christians Between Local Violence and International Indifference.  Immediately appointing a Special Envoy would be a good first step, in addition to appointing an Ambassador –at-Large for International Religious Freedom. President Obama has left the Ambassador position vacant for about 9 months indicating a low priority for international religious freedom.

As was confirmed repeatedly by expert speakers at the conference, the situation for religious minorities in this region is dire and it is in the best interest of US national security, business, and stability to actively support religious freedom for all. 

Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt. For more information, contact Lindsay at: 801-512-1713 or info@copticsolidarity.org

SOURCE Coptic Solidarity



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