Great Britain’s new Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti, began his tenure last month by taking his oath of allegiance on three religious texts in an effort to show what he described as his “respect for all faiths.”
Chishti, took his oath on the Quran with the Bible and the Torah below during the swearing-in ceremony of Britain’s new and returning Members of Parliament (MPs) following general elections in December.
Chishti, a Conservative, was reelected in December from the Gillingham and Rainham constituency in Kent County, which he has represented since the parliamentary seat was created in 2010. He will take up his new role as special envoy in Britain’s Foreign Office.
Chishti is a Muslim whose family is originally from Pakistan. On November 28, he led a candlelit procession in London to mark Red Wednesday, an initiative to raise awareness about the persecution of Christians around the world. (Over the years, landmark buildings such as the Palace of Westminster and the Colosseum in Rome have been lit red for Red Wednesday.)
In November 2018, Chishti resigned as vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Pakistan partly in protest against the government’s failure to offer sanctuary to a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been on death row for nearly a decade after being wrongfully convicted of blasphemy.
“What I found shocking is that the British government is failing to put into practice the core values that our country stands for—religious freedom, justice, morally doing the right thing…” Chishti stated in his resignation letter. “The Government should not wait to see if another country offers sanctuary, we should have had the conviction to lead on this matter and offer sanctuary ourselves straight away.”
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.