Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Prime Minister appoints first special envoy on freedom of religion

Thu 05 Jul 2018
By Alex Williams

Theresa May has appointment a government minister to become a new envoy tasked with challenging religious intolerance and persecution around the world.

Named the first ever Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon has also been asked to champion dialogue and respect between difference faith groups.

Lord Ahmad said: "In too many parts of the world, religious minorities are persecuted, discriminated against and treated as second class citizens.


"As a man of faith, I feel this very keenly.

"Freedom of religion or belief is a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It must be respected.

"People from all faiths or none should be free to practise as they wish. This respect is key to global stability, and is in all our interests.

Lord Ahmad will work with faith groups and governments across the globe to highlight religious persecution and what can be done to tackle it.


Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Religious discrimination blights the lives of millions of people across the globe and leads to conflict and instability.

"Both here and abroad, individuals are being denied the basic right of being able to practise their faith free of fear.

"Tolerance for those of different faiths is fundamental to our values, and is an issue I know is already of great importance to Lord Ahmad, who is constantly looking for fresh ways to promote religious liberty in his role as Minister for Human Rights at the Foreign Office."

The Faith Research Centre said the appointment marked a change in attitudes among European and North American nations when it comes to recognising the seriousness of religious intolerance.

Director, Katie Harrison told Premier: "Whether that's Muslims in Myanmar, Christians in the Middle East or Yazidis in Iraq, you see people being singled and really, really suffering as a result.

"I think that we're starting to see in Western countries quite a lot of recognition of that, and people wanting to do something about it."

Click here to listen to Premier's Rosie Wright and John Pantry speaking with Katie Harrison at the Faith Research Centre:

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