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House of Representatives House Considers Creation of Religious Freedom Envoy in Middle East, Asia

July 28, 2011

Reuters A Christian priest blesses worshippers during a mass at a baptism site on the Jordan River Jan. 14.

mass at the river of Jordan


The House is on the verge of voting to create a new diplomatic post charged with defending religious freedom overseas, following a string of attacks against religious minorities in the turbulent Middle East and beyond. The envoy would be charged with monitoring discrimination in dozens of countries, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Libya, among others.

According to the legislation, the new diplomat -- to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate -- would be tasked with monitoring discrimination and religious violence against minorities and working with foreign governments to deal with "inherently discriminatory" laws. The envoy would also work with nongovernmental organizations and report back to the secretary of state on those issues. The position would be separate from the sitting "ambassador-at-large" for religious freedom.

Lawmakers have not said who they have in mind for the job, but are heading for a vote on the position as early as Thursday morning. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who authored the proposal, said Wednesday that freedom of religion in the Middle East and Near Asia is "under assault." "If the international community fails to speak out, the prospects for religious pluralism and tolerance in the region are bleak," he said on the floor.

The Obama administration will make the choice as to who to give the daunting task of reconciling religions in a hotbed of sectarian strife. The proposal to create the role has bipartisan support from a range of lawmakers, including Christian conservatives. Wolf aide Kalinda Stephenson said the congressman does not have anybody currently in mind for the job. Asked whether lawmakers would look for somebody of a particular denomination, she said: "I don't think there's a preference." Outside organizations that support the creation of the position are mulling over who would be a good fit.

William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, said his group would recommend John Hanford, the former "ambassador-at-large" for religious freedom, if the new envoy position is created. Murray said Hanford, who served in the State Department during most of the George W. Bush administration, has the experience dealing with heads of state to excel at the new role. "He is already extremely well-versed and has the experience to deal at that level," Murray said. Hanford used to serve on the ministry at a Presbyterian church in Virginia before his days in government -- but Murray said the denomination of the envoy would not matter.

The Iraqi Christian Relief Council is working with the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project to compile a list of possible candidates. Juliana Taimoorazy, president of the relief council, without disclosing which candidates they're thinking of, said the group wants somebody "dedicated and passionate" in the post. In an email, she cited concern about "the plight of the Christians in the Middle East, especially in Iraq." Stephenson said the need for such a position was reinforced to her boss on a recent trip to Egypt, where members of religious minorities expressed concern about their rights.

"With all the political upheaval that's going on in the Middle East ... they feel it's created a political vacuum, and it's left these religious minorities particularly vulnerable," she said. The region has been rocked by several attacks on religious minorities over the past year.

Dozens of Iraqi Christians were killed in an attack on a Baghdad church last October. Months later, a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, was the scene of a deadly bombing after a New Year's Eve service. That was followed by the assassination this year of Pakistan's only Christian Cabinet member, Shahbaz Bhatti. A Wolf spokesman described Bhatti as a "close, personal friend" of the congressman. Other minorities ranging from Baha'i to Jews have also been targeted across the region.








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July = Tamuz

House of Representatives House Considers Creation of Religious Freedom Envoy in Middle East, Asia
July 28, 2011

When Is an Ideology Responsible for Murder? July 28, 2011

FAITH UNDER FIRE Christians facing 'deletion' on Nineveh Plain July 24, 2011

Al-Qaeda Cell in Baghdad Smashed July 24, 2011

Director uses art to educate about his culture July 24, 2011

Iraqi paper claims Jews kidnap Christians to convert
July 21, 2011

Statement by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Disappoints Assyrians July 21, 2011

June = Khziran

Kabul Siege Signals Time To Get Out June 29, 011

Yaar = May

Iraq Assyrian Killed, Mutilated in Northern Iraq May 17, 2011

Armenian Parliament Calls for Recognition of Armenian, Assyrian, Hellenic Genocides May 03, 2011

Nissan = April

Worldwide Islamic Anti-Blasphemy Measure Laid to Rest April 1, 2011

Assyrian Patriarch Meets With Turkish PM April 1, 2011

Adaar = March

Muslim Jihad in Christian Ethiopia: Lessons for the West March 27, 2011


The Life and death of Lina Yakubova March 23, 2011

Should we give aid to states riven by human rights abuses? March 23, 2011

Assyrian Genocide Research Center Welcomes Scholar to Its Board March 21, 2011

INTERNATIONAL Extinction of Iraq’s Christians must be Prevented March 21, 2011

Muslim World: Democracy (for Muslim Arabs Only)
March 19, 2011

Turkey's confiscation of Land belonging to The St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery March 19, 2011

Donny George, protector of Iraq's ancient riches Died March 18, 2011

American Muslims Versus Congressman, Peter King March 8, 2011

Iraqi Archbishop Blames lack of Liberty, and Security for his Flocks Suffering March 6, 2011

Iraqi Christians to Congress: Please Help
March 2, 2011

Were Iraqi Security Forces Involved in Baghdad Church Massacre? March 2, 2011

Egyptian Armed Forces Shoot to Kill Christians at Monasteries, 19 Injured March 2, 2011

February = Eshvat

Film About Assyrian Genocide in Iraq to Debut in Michigan Feb 28, 2011

Christian town in north Iraq offers refuge
Feb 27, 2011

Iraq Abuse Worsening for Women and Minorities Feb 23, 2011

Iraq's Christian Leaders Unhappy With Lack of Action on Nineveh Plain Feb 23, 2011

Global Islamic upheaval takes toll on Christians Feb 23, 2011

Turkish Judicial System Does Not Meet EU Standards Feb 23, 2011

Anger over court’s decision to acquit suspects in Coptic killing case Feb 23, 2011

Reconciled By the St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery in Turkey Feb 20, 2011

‘Religicide’ in Iraq Feb 16, 2011

Truth About Sharia Law and Women Feb. 16, 2011

Persecuted Iraqi Christians Reach Out to US.
Feb. 15, 2011

Australian MP Calls Attention to Persecution of Iraq's Assyrians Feb. 10, 2011

Campaign to separate the Syrian Orthodox Church from its Assyrian Heritage
Feb. 9, 2011

Iranians Crack Down on Christian Churches Feb. 9, 2011

Who will defend Mideast Christians? Feb. 8, 2011

Christians of Iraq are in danger Feb. 2, 2011

Failing Christians is damaging EU credibility, says Italy Frattini Feb. 1, 2011

January = Kanoon II

Church to build hospital and university in Iraq
Jan, 31, 2011

“Syria Opens the Gateway to Humanity for the Assyrian Medical Society, the Mission Continues.”
Jan, 28, 2011

Assyrians Without Borders Announces Scholarship Awards Program Jan, 28, 2011

Hearing in Washington about attacks against christians of Iraq and Egypt Jan. 27, 2011

Babylonian cuneiform tablets document Syria’s history Jan. 26, 2011

As the left sides with Muslims, Christians search for support Jan. 24, 2011

Congress to Press Obama on Religious Persecution
Jan. 21, 2011

Abrogation in Islam and The Persecution
of Christians

Jan. 21, 2011

Last Christians Ponder Leaving a Hometown in Iraq Jan. 20, 2011

Assyrian Youth Black March Movement Conference in Detroit Jan. 19, 2011

Who Are the Real Hijackers of Islam? Jan. 10, 2011

Why Christians and Jews are Being Massacred in the Middle East Jan. 10, 2011

Restricted Freedoms in the Iraqi Christian Green Zone
Jan. 8, 2011

France asks for coordinated European Union response to threats against Christians in Middle East Jan. 5. 2011

Violent attacks against Christians could return in Egypt
Jan. 4. 2011

Egyptian Security Guards Withdrew One Hour Before Church Blast Jan. 2. 2011

We may be witnessing a new age of Christian persecution
Jan. 2. 2011

December = Kanoon I

Christians consider their future after more attacks in Iraq
Dec. 31. 2010

Ancient Tel Aviv Fortress has an Assyrian Origion Dec. 30. 2010

Rare Assyrian artifacts on display in Istanbul Dec. 30. 2010

Ancient Tablets Reveal Mathematical Achievements of Ancient Babylonian Culture Dec. 28. 2010

Christmas and New Year's Greetings 2010

Bipartisan Effort Pressures Obama to Help Iraq's Christians
Dec. 26, 2010

Around "1,100" Christian families have fled to to Kurdish north Dec. 21, 2010

U.N. cites 'a slow but steady exodus' of Iraqi Christians
Dec. 18, 2010

Genocide Film Stirs Emotions Dec, 18, 2010

Assyrians in Iraq face a stark choice: convert, die or leave Dec, 17, 2010

Iraqi Christians Want Their Own Province Dec, 17, 2010

The persecution of Christians in the ‘Muslim world’
Dec, 15, 2010

Is Obama serious about human rights? Dec, 15, 2010

Iraq’s war on Christians Dec, 15, 2010

Appeal for Iraq's Imperiled Religious Communities
Dec, 14, 2010

More Christians Flee Iraq After New Violence Dec, 12, 2010

Assyrians in Iraq's Mosul Living Under Constant Fear
Dec. 11, 2010

Iraq Assyrians Mark 40 Days Since Church Carnage Dec. 10, 2010

Christmas 2005 in Iran (Photos Included) Dec. 6, 2010

Demand For a Province in Kurdistan for Christians Dec. 6, 2010

Assyrian MP Calls on Iraqi Government to Safeguard Churches, Open Investigation Dec. 6, 2010

The Voice of Iraq’s Forgotten Minority crying for help
Dec. 6, 2010

Iraq: Gunmen kill elderly Christian couple inside their Baghdad home Dec. 5, 2010

Assyrian Group Briefs EU Parliament Delegation On Iraq
Dec. 3, 2010

Iraq: Deadly Reminders of Unfinished Business 
Dec. 3, 2010

Protecting Our Christian Neighbours in Iraq Dec. 3, 2010

Catholic Bishops Back House Resolution to Protect Iraq's Christians Dec. 1, 2010

November = Tishreen II

Egypt Security forces use live ammunition and kill unarmed Christian Coptic Protesters Nov. 30, 2010

Western Economic Aid to Muslim Nations Who Hate Non-Muslims Nov. 29, 2010

Formation of Committee to assist Iraqi Christians and other Minorities Nov. 29, 2010


The Baghdad Assyrian Church Massacre: Waiting for Godot! Nov. 27, 2010

Christians in the Middle East essential for the survival of the Arab world Nov. 27, 2010

Australian Conference Calls Attention to Assyrian Genocide in Iraq Nov. 22, 2010

Homes of Christians set on Fire in Egypt Nov. 17, 201

Group will not celebrate Muslim Holiday in solidarity with the victims of the Church Massacre Nov. 17, 201o

Thousands Protest Attacks Against Iraqi Christians Nov. 12, 2010

Memorial Service Held in London for Baghdad Church Massacre Victims Nov. 12, 2010

Fear of jihad driving Christians from Iraq Nov. 10, 2010

Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan Nov. 10, 2010

Assyrians Demonstrate Around the World Against Baghdad Church Massacre Nov. 10, 2010

Iraq’s Christians: The Final Push to Drive them Out?
Nov. 10, 2010

3 bombs explode outside Christian homes in Baghdad
Nov. 10, 2010

How an Iraqi Christian school became 82 percent Muslim
Iraq Nov. 10, 2010

Recent attack on church sheds light on Assyrians' plight
Iraq Nov. 9, 2010

Global Demonstrations against the Persecution of Christians of Iraq Nov. 9, 2010

Two Christians killed in Baghdad a week after massacre
Massacre Nov. 8, 2010

Worldwide Assyrian Demonstrations against Baghdad's Church Massacre Nov. 7, 2010

Al-Qaida is turning its focus on Iraq's vulnerable Christians
Nov. 7, 2010

Christians and Muslims issue joint statement condemning Iraqi church attack Nov. 6, 2010

Christian Massacre Spurs Assyrian-American Rally Nov. 6, 2010

Christians ‘on verge of extinction’ in Iraq, Muslim leader warns
Nov. 5, 2010

UNSC to discuss the security situation in Iraq Tuesday
Nov. 5, 2010

Islamic chauvinism drives Christians out Nov. 5, 2010

bloody, ruthless attack on landmark church in Iraq Nov. 3, 2010

Videos of the Attack on the Assyrian church on October 31-2010

Assyrians Should Be Granted Indigenous Group Status and Rights in Iraq Nov. 3, 2010

Operation Iraqi freedom and Christians in Iraq Nov. 1, 2010

Protest and demonstration in Ankawa against the murder of Christian worshipers in Baghdad Nov. 2, 2010

CNN update; include video- Death toll rises to 58 in Iraq church
Nov. 1. 2010

Death Toll Rises to 58 in Iraq Church Standoff Nov. 1. 2010

Baghdad attack a new low in Christian onslaught in Iraq
Nov. 1. 2010

Pictures of surviving Christians ater the killing in Iraq Nov. 1. 2010

Deadly Baghdad church siege highlights threat to Iraqi Christians
Nov. 1. 2010

Priests among 46 Christians killed in Iraq
Nov. 1. 2010 8:00 AM

Priests among 37 Christians killed in Iraq hostage drama
Nov. 1. 2010 1:00 AM

Iraqi worshipers, troops killed in church takeover
Nov. 1. 2010

October = Tishreen I

My Take on Tearing down the walls 30, 2010

swedishimmigration-policyon-iraqirefugees October 29, 2010

Ancient Winemaking Makes Resurgence in Southeast Turkey
October 29, 2010

Arabs and Turcomans Speak out Against Kurdish Demands in Kirkuk October 17, 2010

The Cost Of Moslem Intolerance October 6, 2010

2,700-year-old royal loyalty oath discovered in Turkey 15 October 2010

Muslim scholars address synod, say Middle East needs Christians Oct. 16, 2010

Christian Hymns of the church of the East in Assyrian aramaic by Reverend Genard Lazar
aug. 26, 2010

Eilul = September

The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia August 26, 2010

Assyrian Politician Attacked in Sweden Future 0f Democracy in the West 26, 2010

Vatican should prevent the exodus of Christians from the Middle East 26, 2010

Assyrian speech at the International Genocide Conference In Greece. Sept. 24, 2010

Egyptian Coptic Church Accused of Stockpiling Weapons
Sept. 22, 2010

Priceless Assyrian historic site Used as Kurdish resort Sept. 22, 2010

Poverty and unemployment among northern Christians sept. 21, 2010

Imam Khamenei: US and Zionism, Not Christianity, Responsible for Anti-Islamism Sep. 17, 2010

Iraq's top Shiite cleric urges tolerance towards Christians
Sep. 10, 2010

Assyrian Representative in the Iranian Parliament condemned the burning of the Koran in the U.S. Sep. 16, 2010

Christian Community of Iraq Halved in Seven Years 16, 2010

Why People worldwide lose Respect for Islam 16, 2010

The Assyrian Genocide and the Turkish Ambassador sept. 13, 2010

Dubakh = August

Religious Freedom and a Mosque August 30, 2010

Kidnapped Assyrian killed in Iraq despite ransom paid August 27, 2010

Why did the Golden Age of Islam come to an end? August 23, 2010

Iraqi asylum seekers struggle to survive in Sweden August 14, 2010

Monument in memory of massacred Assyrians is ready to be unvailed in Australia August 4, 2010

Speaking the language of Jesus August 3, 2010

U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq Does Not End Humanitarian Obligation

August 1. 2010

Tammuz = July

Baghdad Bishop Dies After Lifetime of Serving the Church July 28, 2010

Islam needs more tolerance, not more mosques July 27, 2010