Bishop of Chelmsford calls for justice for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in Lords maiden speech

“I have experienced first-hand the sting of injustice—injustice born of being caught up in events that are bigger than we are and in the face of which we are powerless.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, made her maiden speech in the House of Lords on 2nd December 2021, in a debate led by Lord Collins of Highbury, “That this House takes note of the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the case for further action by Her Majesty’s Government to secure her release.”

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I was introduced to the House barely a month ago, having recently taken up my post as Bishop of Chelmsford, that vast and wonderful diocese that covers the whole of Essex and east London. It is a privilege to serve this diocese, which is complex, diverse and full of opportunities and challenges. Today, I thank everyone here who has offered me the warmest of welcomes. I am immensely grateful, in particular, for the help and support that I have received from staff and officials.

I have a deep and personal interest in the subject of this debate. Not only have I met Richard Ratcliffe and followed the story of Nazanin over the years, but I myself originally come from Iran. Born and brought up there, I left as a teenager during the Islamic Revolution, following difficult and traumatic circumstances. I was born into a Christian household, my father having been a convert from Islam to Christianity, in a small village in the centre of Iran. We were part of the tiny Anglican Church in Iran, which, when I was growing up in the 1970s, was made up primarily of converts and second- and third-generation Christians.

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Bishop of Leeds responds to Queen’s Speech on inter-connectedness in foreign policy

On 7th January 2020 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, opened the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the subjects of culture, language and foreign affairs:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, following the last debate on Iran, I think it is wise to take a step back from the detail, to which we shall shortly return, to consider culture and principle.

Twenty-twenty vision is something that, if claimed, proves only that the claimant is deluded. However, leaving fantasists to one side for a moment, we might take some wisdom from the late former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt. At the age of 91, he wrote a book called Ausser Dienst, or “out of office”, in which he advises young Germans considering a career in politics not to do so unless they speak at least two foreign languages to a competent degree. His reason? You can only understand your own culture if you look at it through the eyes of another culture, and to do that you need language; some things cannot be translated.

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Bishop of Leeds asks Government to remember Iran’s rich cultural history

Leeds0518On 7th January 2020  Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, repeated a Government statement on Middle East security. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree that the “Thought for the Day” by the Bishop of Loughborough this morning on BBC Radio 4, available on the Sounds app, shone an important light on this matter? She came to this country as an Iranian refugee following the murder of her brother, and what she was pointing to was that in the context of the immediate crisis we must not lose sight of the fact that Iran has a very rich and long history as a seat of civilisation, and that we should not tar the entire country and culture with one brush.

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Bishop of Coventry asks Government about welfare of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

On 23rd January 2019 the Bishop of Coventry received written answers to two questions about the treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in particular that she be granted access to medical treatment for long standing mental and physical health complaints. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about welfare of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe”

Bishop of Durham asks Government about Iranians seeking asylum in the UK

On 7th January 2019 the House of Lords heard repeated a Government statement on migrant crossings of the English Channel. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, on a slightly different tack, given that those seeking asylum seem to be mainly Iranians, and the number of Iranians seeking asylum in the past two years has been steadily reducing, is work being done to discern whether this is an ​increase in number or a transfer of route? Is work being done to understand the dynamics of exactly what is going on? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about Iranians seeking asylum in the UK”

Bishop of Leeds asks Government about impact of US sanctions on Iran and migration

On 17th, 20th & 21st December 2018 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, received written answers to three questions about US sanctions on Iran and migration from Iran. 

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Iranian citizens made asylum applications in (1) 2015, (2) 2016, (3) 2017, and (4) 2018; and how many applications have been granted.

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Bishop of Chester responds to a Government statement on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Chester

On 9th May 2018, Lord Ahmad repeated a statement given in the House of Commons on the Iran Nuclear Deal. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster responded. 
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Bishop of St Albans raises case of Christian convert & missionary jailed in Iran

On 19th December 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question about the imprisonment in Iran of Christian convert and missionary Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations to the government of Iran relating to the case of Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh, an Iranian convert to Christianity who has had his 10-year prison sentence for missionary activities upheld after losing his appeal. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans raises case of Christian convert & missionary jailed in Iran”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran

On 6th July 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Republic of Iran concerning the continuing persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, as described in the Annual report of the UN Secretary-General to the Human Rights Council submitted on 13 March, Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran A/HRC/34/40. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran”

Church Commissioners’ Questions: church buildings, Christians in Iran, clergy wellbeing, General Synod diversity

On 18th June 2015 the Rt. Hon Caroline Spelman MP answered questions from MPs as Second Church Estates Commissioner. Mrs Spelman, who was answering questions for the first time since taking on the role, was asked  about improving the sustainability of church buildings, Christians in Iran, the wellbeing of clergy and the diversity of the General Synod of the Church of England. Mrs Spelman also paid tribute to the former Second Church Estates Commissioner the Rt. Hon Sir Tony Baldry and expressed sympathy for the Methodist Church in South Carolina following the recent tragic shootings.

The full text is available below and a video link is also available, hereSpelman CCQs June 2015 4

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