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Prime Minister issues pledge to champion religious freedoms

by Press Association

The Prime Minister outlined the UK's support for freedom of religion or belief as Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, met international counterparts at the UN in New York today.

A statement from Mr Johnson said the UK will implement recommendations made by the Bishop of Truro on protecting people from religious persecution, and would use the UK's "global reach" to help people facing the same issues elsewhere in the world.

Mr Johnson said: "Freedom of religion or belief is at the heart of what the UK stands for.

"We will do everything possible to champion these freedoms and protect civilians in armed conflict, including religious, ethnic or other minorities.

"We are determined to use the tools of British diplomacy in this cause, including our permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

"In light of mounting evidence that Christians suffer the most widespread persecution, we asked the Anglican Bishop of Truro to carry out an independent review to ensure that our work in this area matched the scale of the problem.

"We have accepted, and will implement, all of the Review's challenging recommendations.

"We will use the UK's global reach and programme funding to improve the lives of persecuted people. Today we are opening a call for bids on how to take this forward."

Lord Ahmad said: "Those belonging to religious minorities face a number of challenges, from armed conflicts, mass murders and violent assaults to everyday discrimination.

"The heinous attacks this year on places of worship from the Philippines to Burkino Faso, New Zealand to Sri Lanka, have reminded us all that the fundamental human right of freedom of religion or belief is increasingly under threat.

"Today, as we commemorate the victims of such acts of violence, we demonstrate our commitment to supporting research to change people's lives and help build a world free of religious intolerance and hatred."

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