Somalia: Religious Freedom

Written Question, answered on 25th March, 2014:

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion and belief in Somalia.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The vast majority of people in Somalia are Muslim (around 99.8%) and Islam is recognised as the official state religion in Somalia’s provisional constitution. The majority of reports of restriction of religious freedom relate to human rights abuses by Al Shabaab.

(via Parliament.uk)

Egypt: Written Questions from Bishop of Coventry

On March 19th 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to two written questions about Egypt: on political and religious freedom in the country.

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the current state of political freedom in Egypt and of the prospects for free and fair Presidential elections later this year.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The January 2014 constitutional referendum was an important moment for millions of Egyptians who expressed their opinion through the ballot box. We welcome the fact that the new constitution includes better provisions for the protection of the rights of minorities, including Christians, and women. However, we are concerned by restrictions on freedom of expression for opposition groups and the press, both in the run-up to the referendum and since. We encourage Egypt’s interim authorities to ensure that Egypt’s democratic transition leads to free and fair presidential elections in a genuinely inclusive process. We are pleased to hear that the EU European External Action Service is discussing with Egyptian authorities its intention to send an Electoral Observation Mission to Egypt for the presidential elections.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the state of freedom of religion and belief in Egypt following the removal of President Morsi from office in July 2013.

Baroness Warsi: Sectarian violence increased under President Morsi and has continued since. Amnesty report that 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches burned down or damaged since July 2013. In September, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a statement in Parliament condemning the violence against Christian churches. Article 64 of the 2014 constitution states that freedom of belief is absolute. The key test will be how the constitution is implemented, as many articles require additional legislation. We have continued to raise the importance of respect for different religions and beliefs and the protection of religious minorities with the Egyptian authorities. The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Mr Robertson), discussed the situation faced by Coptic Christians and implications of the new constitution in a meeting with Bishop Yulios during his visit to Cairo in December 2013. The Bishop was optimistic about the new Constitution provisions for religious minorities.

(Via parliament.uk)

Egypt: Written Questions from Bishop of Coventry

On March 18th 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to two written questions about Egypt: election monitoring and the suspension of export licences for equipment that could be used for internal repression. Continue reading “Egypt: Written Questions from Bishop of Coventry”

Sikhs and Golden Temple, Amritsar: Bishop of Coventry’s Written Question

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings they have had or are intending to have with Sikh organisations in the United Kingdom following the publication of the Cabinet Secretary’s report on the Indian operation at Sri Harmandir Sahib Continue reading “Sikhs and Golden Temple, Amritsar: Bishop of Coventry’s Written Question”

UK Government Relations with Sikhs: Bishop of Coventry Asks Written Question

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from Sikh organisations in the United Kingdom following the publication of the Cabinet Secretary’s report on the Indian operation at Sri Harmandir Sahib.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We continue to take the views of the Sikh community on this matter very seriously, and round-table meetings were hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 4th February and by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 25th February. The following organisations took part:

4th February:
Sikh Council UK
Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)
Federation of Sikh Organisations
Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare
Sikh Community and Youth Services
Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar
Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Sikh Youth Project
Kesri Leher/1984 Genocide Coalition
Akali Dal
Sikhs in England
United Sikhs
City Sikhs Network
Sikh Federation UK

25th February:
Sikh Council UK
Federation of Sikh Organisations
Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare
Kesri Leher
Sikh Community and Youth Services
Sikhs in England
City Sikhs Network
Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
Sikh Federation UK
Indian Workers Association
Young Sikhs UK
Sikh Care Society Heathrow
Sikh Community and Youth Services
Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

(via Parliament.uk)

Bishop of Coventry receives answer to written question on Syria

On 11th December 2013, the Bishop of Coventry received an answer to a written question on Syria.

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to participate in the resettlement programme for Syrian refugees administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government shares the deep concerns regarding the continuing humanitarian crisis in Syria. However, the Government has no current plans to resettle Syrian refugees either as part of, or in addition to, its annual resettlement quota. We continue to believe that the priority should be to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people in partnership with neighbouring countries and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The UK has now increased its pledge for the Syrian relief effort to £500 million. This represents the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis.

(via Parliament.uk)

Syria – Written Question

On 4th December 2013, the Bishop of Coventry received an answer to a written question on Syria.

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Amnesty International’s report of 31 October on Growing Restrictions, Tough Conditions: The plight of those fleeing Syria to Jordan.

Baroness Northover: The Government is committed to ensuring those affected by the crisis in Syria can get assistance wherever they seek refuge. We are providing multi-year financial and technical support to neighbouring countries, and for them to keep borders open. To date the UK has allocated £105.1 million to Jordan to support refugees and host communities. DFID also recently announced £12 million of development funding over the next two years to help local Jordanian municipal governments maintain and improve public services. Neighbouring countries have been extremely generous in hosting Syrian refugees, and we urge them to continue to show that generosity by welcoming those seeking safety keep their borders open.

(via Parliament.uk)