Christian MP Fiona Bruce, the member for Congleton and vice-chair of the all-party group for international freedom of religion or belief, has become the UK’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief.
The appointment, made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the end of last year, is an important one for the UK and for religious minorities across the world, particularly Christians, who are the most-persecuted religious minority worldwide.
The role of special envoy for freedom of religion or belief is based upon Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Fiona Bruce said, ‘I am honoured to be given this opportunity to serve. There is much to do, and my post will be placed at the service of some of the most vulnerable people across the world.’
She highlighted the cases of young girls Leah Sharibu from Nigeria and Maira Shahbaz from Pakistan, both of whom were ‘brutally abducted from their homes’.
Bruce first raised the plight of the Nigerian schoolgirl Leah who was kidnapped by the Boko Haram back in 2018.
Leah is the sole practicing Christian out of the 110 abducted – and the only one still in captivity, due to her refusal to renounce her Christian faith, the precondition for release. Bruce met the girl’s mother in parliament last year.
Bruce highlighted the fact that her appointment comes amid large-scale horrors taking place against religious minorities worldwide – such as those against Uighur Muslims in China, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, and Yazidis in Iraq.
Furthermore, quoting the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, she said, ‘the persecution of Christians throughout much of the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and elsewhere, is one of the crimes against humanity of our time’, and called these issues ‘deeply disturbing’.
She pledged to engage with these issues as special envoy, both nationally and internationally, with others similarly concerned.
She added, ‘As the Prime Minister’s special envoy, I look forward to working further with parliamentarians and non-government organisations on behalf of those persecuted for their faith or beliefs across the world.’