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Sires Wins Inclusion of Religious Freedom Provision in State Department Authorization Bill

Location: Washington, DC

Today, Representative Albio Sires attended a meeting of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to debate a pending bill to authorize funding levels for the Department of State, related programs, the Peace Corps, and security assistance for 2012. Representative Sires won inclusion of important language in H.R. 2583, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, expressing concern about the state of religious freedom in Egypt and the plight of religious minorities in the country, including Coptic Christians.

"With the addition of this language, the State Authorization bill addresses the critical issue of religious freedom in Egypt," said Representative Sires. "Coptic Christians in Egypt continue to face the threat of violence and persecution every day, and we must use all available tools to ensure that the rights of religious minorities are protected and promoted. However, as debate on this bill continues, I remain concerned with numerous provisions of the underlying legislation."

Specifically, Section 811, authored by Representative Sires, expresses the sense of Congress that the Office of International Religious Freedom and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the Department of State should dedicate all appropriate resources to promoting the rights of religious minorities in Egypt. Sectarian violence in Egypt has persisted for years between the radical groups and Coptic Christians.

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