Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Patrick Goodenough

10/29/2012 (1 year ago)

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

Wolf pointed to troubling times facing Copts in Egypt

Contending that the "Arab spring" has made non-Muslim religious minorities in the Middle East more vulnerable than ever, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is voicing frustration over the State Department holding up a Senate bill to appoint a special envoy focusing on the issue.

Coptic Christians in Egypt

Coptic Christians in Egypt

Highlights

By Patrick Goodenough

CNSNews (www.cnsnews.com)

10/29/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: South and Central Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Coptic Christian, persecution, Christophobia,


WASHINGTON, DC (CNSNews.com) -  Contending that the "Arab spring" has made non-Muslim religious minorities in the Middle East more vulnerable than ever, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is voicing frustration over the State Department holding up a Senate bill to appoint a special envoy focusing on the issue.

"I am concerned that time is running out - both in terms of the legislative calendar for this year and in terms of the plight of these communities," he wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last week. "[D]espite the strategic imperative and the moral obligation to act, the State Department seems unable or unwilling to address the issue with the urgency it demands," he wrote.

Wolf, who introduced a House bill creating the envoy post - it passed last year with strong bipartisan support - attributes the block  to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and says Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) also has disregarded his requests for a hearing on the matter.

Webb's spokesman declined to comment, but last July he told CNSNews.com the State Department had advised the senator that the appointment of a special envoy would be "unnecessary, duplicative, and likely counterproductive."

In his letter to Clinton, Wolf wrote that Webb also had indicated he was uncomfortable about the legislation moving ahead without being subject to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Wolf had written to Kerry on July 23 requesting such a hearing, to no avail.

Kerry's office did not respond to request for comment.

Wolf's bill, H.R. 440, establishes a special envoy to promote religious freedom specifically in the Middle East and South-Central Asia. Co-sponsored by 80 lawmakers from both parties, it passed in the House in July 2011 by a 420-20 vote.

It has languished in the Senate ever since, along with a companion bill, S. 1245, introduced in June 2011 by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and co-sponsored by two Republicans and three Democrats.

"Despite the introduction of the bill having pre-dated the so-called 'Arab Spring,' the dramatic changes in the region over the last year have only made these communities more vulnerable," Wolf wrote to Clinton. "As such, a special envoy has never been more needed."

Wolf pointed to troubling times facing Copts in Egypt, the exodus of Christians from Iraq and the assassination of Pakistan's only Christian cabinet member over his support for a Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.

"I am disappointed in Senator Webb for having put a hold on this bill and preventing it from moving, despite the obvious need for renewed attention to this issue and the very fact that not one Democrat voted against the House-passed bill. I am particularly disheartened by Chairman Kerry's lack of action - despite my repeated requests for a vote or hearing."

In its advice to Webb earlier this year, the State Department said the legislation infringes on the secretary of state's "flexibility to make appropriate staffing decisions." It stated that diplomats from Clinton down consistently raise religious freedom concerns, both in meetings in the U.S. and while traveling abroad.

H.R. 440, the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act, created an envoy to promote religious freedom for minorities in 31 specified countries stretching from Morocco to Bangladesh.

It gave priority to four countries that are considered by religious freedom advocates to be among the most dangerous places to be a Christian or other religious minority - Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan.

The legislation provides for the envoy, appointed by the president and reporting to the president and secretary of state, to work with foreign governments to address discriminatory laws, and to recommend to the U.S. government appropriate responses to violations.

At the time of its passage a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt warned it would bring more U.S. "interference" in Egypt's affairs. Christian activists in Pakistan welcomed the move.

The 31 countries identified in the legislation are:

Middle East: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, plus the West Bank and Gaza.

---

CNSNews.com is a division of the Media Research Center, a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, CNSNews.com is able to provide its services and information to the public at no cost, thanks to the generous support of our thousands of donors and their tax-deductible contributions.This article is reprinted with permission.



Comments


More Middle East

ISLAMIC STATE PREPARES CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST Watch

Image of Iraqi Christians are being forced to flee Mosul or be put to death. It's the start of a campaign of genocide. Leave with nothing or die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Imagine you've been given a choice, and just days to make it. You must either change your religion, agree to pay thousands of dollars each year in punishing taxes, or you must leave your home with just the clothes on your back. No suitcases, no possessions. If you ... continue reading


Christian Monks expelled from Iraqi monastery as ISIS Islamists fighters ruthlessly sieze it Watch

Image of An image made available by the jihadist Twitter account Al-Baraka news on June 11, 2014 allegedly shows militants of the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waving the Islamic Jihad flag and holding up their weapons as a vehicle drives on a newly cut road through the Syrian-Iraqi border between the Iraqi Nineveh province and the Syrian town of Al-Hasakah.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Saint Behnam, a fourth-century monastery run by the Syriac Catholic church near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh in Iraq has been overrun by jihadists. Members of the Islamic State expelled the monks from the monastery this past weekend, sources ... continue reading


THINGS TO COME? ISIS stones Syrian woman to death over 'adultery charges' Watch

Image of Many fear that the recent stoning incident proves that ISIS will impose a brutal regime over the areas they seize.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Al-Qaeda-breakaway group, the Islamic State, has now stoned a woman to death for adultery in Syria. It was the first such execution carried out in the region, and depicts the stranglehold this radical group now has over the region of northern Syria. LOS ... continue reading


CRIES FOR HELP: Head of Iraq's Catholic Church issues appeal 'to all who have a living conscience' Watch

Image of ISIS had reportedly marked the doors of Christians in red last month. Patriarch Sako's letter confirms that rumor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an appeal "to all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world," Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, head of Iraq's Catholic Church, has issued a plea for international support. He says that the situation for Iraq's Christians has been steadily ... continue reading


Israel authorizes another call up of 18,000 reserve troops as Gaza offensives continues Watch

Image of Israeli troops have pushed into the Gaza strip in an attempt to target and weaken Hamas militants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Israeli military has pushed deeper into the Gaza strip, destroying rocket launching sites and tunnels and clashing with Palestinian fighters. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Israel began this military operation on July 17, in an attempt to weaken Hamas ... continue reading


UNBELIEVABLE: 20 rockets found at United Nations agency in Gaza Watch

Image of This latest incident would confirm Israel's oft-repeated claim that Hamas and other Gazan terror groups use civilian infrastructure to hide weapons.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Some 20 rockets were found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The weapons were found in "the course of the regular inspection of its premises," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said in a statement. The agency ... continue reading


Ground invasion more likely, in spite of ceasefire in Gaza Watch

Image of Relatives of a 25-year-old Palestinian man who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, mourn over his body during his funeral on July 16 in Gaza City.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Israel agreed to cease fire on Gaza for five hours to allow humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory. Israel at the same time warned that the likelihood of a ground invasion was growing, just as long as militants in Gaza kept up rocket attacks. LOS ... continue reading


What is the mysterious object found in the Sea of Galilee? Watch

Image of A strange object has been found in the Sea of Galilee, twice the size of the ancient Stonehenge monument in England.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mysterious structure, with a diameter greater than the length of a 747 jet has been discovered under 30 feet of water, underneath the Sea of Galilee in Israel. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The circular structure was first discovered in 2003 when they used ... continue reading


Guest Commentary: Headline: Israel Hits Gaza (Gaza hits Israel? Shhh!) Watch

Image of Ken Blackwell, a visiting professor at the Liberty University School of Law and serves on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Bob Morrison is a senior Fellow at Family Research Council, in Washington, D.C.

By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

When Hamas rockets rain down on Israeli cities and towns-and homes, schools, and hospitals, it is not news. It happens ever day, so it becomes like a weather report. Thousands of Hamas rockets have been fired at Israeli homes. Thousands. This coverage brings to ... continue reading


KETTLE CALLING POT BLACK? Taliban warns ISIS to 'avoid extremism' Watch

Image of The Afghan Taliban has urged the Sunni faction, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against Shi'ite Muslim groups in Iraq, to avoid

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's an extraordinary gesture, suggesting that ISIS is overstepping the line a bit in its assault on Iraq. No less than the Taliban militants in Afghanistan are warning ISIS insurgents fighting in Iraq to "avoid extremism" in a plea for unity among jihadists. ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Song of Songs 3:1-4
1 On my bed at night I sought the man who is my ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
2 Thus I have gazed on you in the sanctuary, seeing ... Read More

Gospel, John 20:1-2, 11-18
1 It was very early on the first day of the week and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Mary Magdelene
July 22: She is called "the Penitent". St. Mary was given the ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter