On 26th January 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Saudi Arabia on behalf of Raif Bedawi. [HL4076]
Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): We are seriously concerned by Raif Badawi’s case. The UK condemns the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment in all circumstances. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) has raised the matter with the Saudi Ambassador. We have previously raised the case at a senior level with the Saudi authorities. The UK is a strong supporter of freedom of expression around the world. We believe that people must be allowed to freely discuss and debate issues, peacefully challenge their governments, exercise the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and speak out against violations of human rights wherever they occur.
On 6th November 2014, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, recieved answers to three written question Saudi Arabia from the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Anelay of St Johns.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion or belief in Saudi Arabia and the extent to which discrimination against and restrictions experienced by Shiite Muslims contribute to sectarian unrest and dissent in that country.[HL2365]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns): The British Government strongly supports the right to freedom of religion or belief, which is severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. We make our views well known through the UN Universal Periodic Review Process, in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report, and to the Saudi Arabian authorities. We have made clear the importance of religious tolerance, including for different branches of Islam. There are some long-standing tensions between some Shia communities in the Eastern Province and the Saudi authorities. We continue to monitor developments. We welcome all efforts to increase religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia, including the recent calls by King Abdullah and Saudi religious leaders for greater religious tolerance in the Kingdom. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry receives answers to questions on Saudi Arabia”