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Senator Blunt’s Bill To Promote Religious Freedom In Middle East Passes Senate Panel

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Bipartisan Legislation Promoting Religious Freedom, Protecting Religious Minorities Throughout Middle East

December 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly passed U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s (Mo.) bipartisan legislation to appoint a special envoy for the purpose of promoting religious freedom among religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

Under Blunt’s bill, the envoy would hold the rank of ambassador and work in coordination with the Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom to monitor and combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against religious minorities in these regions. In addition to working with foreign governments and relevant multilateral organizations, the envoy would coordinate these efforts with the Secretary of State. To read the bill, click here.

“The continued violence we’ve witnessed against Coptic Christians and other civilians in the Middle East is deeply disturbing and defies the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear,” said Blunt. “I’m pleased the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed this important bipartisan legislation, and I urge Majority Leader Reid to allow a vote to demonstrate to leaders in the region that the United States takes religious freedom seriously,” Blunt continued.

Blunt’s legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (Mich.) and 18 other U.S. Senators. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (Va.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In October 2013, Blunt joined U.S. Senators Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry noting recent reports of more frequent, targeted attacks against Coptic churches and individuals in Egypt “warrants a clear U.S. response.” In August 2013, Blunt reiterated his calls for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at promoting and protecting religious freedoms throughout the region.

Blunt serves as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. He is also one of three U.S. Senators serving on both the defense authorizing and appropriations committees.

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