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MEP Miriam Lexmann Credit Roman Skyba.jpg header2.jpg
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World News

MEPs call for EU to appoint Religious Freedom envoy as soon as possible

by Cara Bentley

Politicians in the European Parliament want the vacancy of Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief filled as soon as possible.  

In a letter, 48 MEPs have written to Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, and the Vice-President asking for the re-appointment of an Envoy who will specifically work on defending the freedoms of religious people. 

It was announced back in July that the position would be renewed, having previously been held by only one person - Ján Figel - since the creation of the role in 2016. The role has been vacant for almost a year.

They say promoting freedom of religion is an essential aim of the EU, citing the fact that ISIS have mass murdered many people from religious minorities. 

"Targeted attacks on religious freedoms in recent years have demonstrated the need for a more targeted and urgent response," they say. 

The MEPs argue that weak laws around freedom of religion and belief are leading to the migration crisis and "related security challenges which threaten the EU."

 

The letter was led by Miriam Lexmann (pictured), a centre-right MEP from the Christian Democrat Movement in Slovakia, but also signed by former European Parliament President Antonio Tajani from Italy. 

The signatories state: "We need an office with a multi-year term of office and a professional team of workers that will help protect freedom of thought, religion and defend religious minorities, especially in the so-called third countries, where they are often persecuted and oppressed. By appointing him, the Commission will send a signal that the EU is committed to standing up to the victims of violence all over the world and to combating their persecution for religion or belief."  

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