The government's new Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief has said that she intends on challenging governments who oppress people of faith. Fiona Bruce MP, who was appointed to the role by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the weekend, told Premier that she was "passionate about challenging governments and authorities across the world to allow their own people to speak of their faith and to hold their beliefs freely".
Bruce, who takes on the job following Rehman Chishti's resignation in September, said that the role was hugely important in advocating not only for freedom of belief, but also for the upholding of several other fundamental human rights. "Wherever freedom of belief is under attack, other human rights are under attack as well," she explained. "You will see where freedom of belief is attacked, that people risk losing their jobs, their homes, and their livelihoods.
"It's such a fundamental human right. And that's why it's so important for us in this country here where we have the privilege of such freedoms to stand up for those across the world who don't have them."
Bruce said her first priorities in her role would be to ensure that the recommendations made by the Bishop of Truro in his landmark 2019 report into Christian persecution are "fully implemented".
"I would be grateful for people's prayers for this role, and I am honoured to be given this opportunity to serve," she added. "There is much to do, and I want to place my post at the service of some of the most vulnerable people across the world...people like Leah Sharibu, who was abducted in Nigeria, or Maria Shahbaz, from Pakistan, who was and also abducted and whose plights I've been able to highlight recently in the House of Commons.
"It's for vulnerable people like this that I want to make a difference, but I am aware of the challenge involved. And so the prayers of everyone listening today would be much appreciated as I embark on this role."