Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I am an original co-sponsor of this legislation and look forward to its passage by the House.
One of the most important services our State Department Special Envoys perform is to help highlight the concern of the American people for specific, often troubling, developments beyond our shores. Such is the case and the need where issues of the persecution of religious minorities are concerned.
During my tenure in Congress, I have heard from many of my constituents on the scope and brutality of state-sponsored or state-sanctioned persecution of religious minorities. Whether it has been Coptic Christians in Egypt, Baha'i in Iran, Falun Gong in China, or Muslims in Burma, the story is always the same: a violent element of the majority religion--or in China and Iran, the state itself--commits the most horrific acts of violence against religious minorities in their midst, including the destruction of the sacred places of those religious minorities. Our government must do more to help combat this insidious evil, and one mechanism for doing so is creating and properly funding this position.
As a nation founded by religious minorities seeking a safe haven in a new land, we have both a history and an obligation to do all in our power to protect the rights and the lives of religious minorities around the world. Creating the position of Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia is one important step in making good on that commitment. I urge my colleagues to join me in voting for this bill.