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

'I will not let another Holocaust happen!' Sign the petition in support of Iraqi Christians forced to flee from persecution Watch

Image of Christians in Mosul embrace one another as they are forced to leave absolutely everything behind at gunpoint.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The plight of Iraq's Christians has now lasted longer than a decade, and recent militant uprisings in Mosul threaten to expunge the neighboring Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac villages. Iraqi Christians have fled Mosul in droves, but some remain behind, awaiting their ... continue reading


WARNING GRAPHIC, RAW PHOTOS -- ISIS on Christians: 'There is nothing to give them but the sword' Watch

Image of Soldier's heads were hoisted on poles as they were killed in Syria.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has warned Christians, possibly for the last time, saying "there is nothing to give them but the sword." Across Northern Iraq, Christians are huddled in refugee camps, trapped in the desert, or trapped in their homes, waiting for death. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Christians flee as Islamic ISIS gets ready for a 'Christian Holocaust' Watch

Image of Christians are fleeing for their lives in parts of northern Iraq where Islamic militants issued an ultimatum to convert or be killed.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Iraq will soon be a Christian free nation, the only vicar of the only Anglican church in that country warns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Canon Andrew White, also known as 'the bishop of Baghdad' gave this warning after the deadline set by Islamic militants to ... continue reading


Massive underground bunkers empower Hamas in Israeli conflict Watch

Image of Other than giving Hamas tax revenue and weapons, the tunnels supply in-demand civilian goods like food and medicine, as well as infrastructure materials including concrete and fuel.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cut off from the rest of the world with three sides enforced by Israel and Egypt, coupled with shelling maintained by sea and in the air above its coastal strip, Gazans have found a way around their confinement by tunneling underground. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


BLOWN TO BITS: Video surfaces of Jonah's tomb being destroyed Watch

Image of Militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, are said to have planted explosives around the tomb and detonated the explosion remotely.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's horrific footage, and many pray that it was faked - but knowing of the ruthlessness of the people involved, it probably wasn't. Jonah's tomb, a holy shrine in Mosul, Iraq is depicted being blown to bits. The demolition of this shrine occurred in seconds. ... continue reading


WARNING VERY GRAPHIC UNCENSORED CONTENT: Islamic State terrorists from Australia pose with the severed heads of their captives - CHRISTIANS ARE NEXT Watch

Image of Mohamed Elomar poses with a pair of his victim's heads, taking delight in the slaughter of fellow Muslims.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a gruesome series of images, an Islamic State terrorist is tweeting images of a friend posing with the severed heads of decapitated victims. Terrorist, Mohamed Elomar who was born in Australia and traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State is clearly having a good ... continue reading


ISIS denies claims that they will enforce mandatory female genital mutilation Watch

Image of Stories of intended FGM in Iraq have been circulating in the local media for the past few days.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They've seized Iraqi towns, blown up shrines and have threatened the nation's Christian minority - but ISIS is now hotly denying that they intend to enforce mandatory female genital mutilation. As claimed by a senior United Nations humanitarian official this ... continue reading


FIERY STATEMENT: Jihadi cleric threatens Egyptian president Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The war of words after Israel's incursion into Gaza is heating up. Jihadi cleric Abu hareth Al-Maqdisi threatening Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, vowing that his time is coming soon. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "You won't sit for long in your ... continue reading


LIPS BURNT WITH CIGARETTE: Iranian Christian punished for not observing Ramadan Watch

Image of Muslims are required to not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For eating during the daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan, an Iranian Christian man had his lips burned with a cigarette. This monstrous sentence was carried out in full view of the public in the city of Kermanshah. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Islamic State now aggressively pursuing Christians in Nineveh Plain Watch

Image of There are very real concerns about the possible genocide of Christians in the region. Christians in the country cannot wait for help from the international community.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is no rest for the wicked - or for those fleeing with their lives, it appears. Islamic State militants have now launched a mortar attack against the village of Tilkif in an attempt to break into one of the towns in the Nineveh Plain, where families driven ... 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

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... 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