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Establishing Special Envoy for Religious Freedom in the Near East and South Central Asia

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PITTS. I rise to urge this Chamber to support H.R. 440, a bill that requires the President to appoint a special envoy at the State Department to advocate for religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia. I commend the gentleman for his leadership on this matter.

I have personally met with oppressed people from all over the globe, but predominantly ones from the Near East and South Asia. The region has long been a hot-bed of religious discrimination, and little has been done by our government to aid these innocent practitioners of faith. Revolutions striving for democracy and greater expression in the region have been matched by a wake of religious intolerance and extremism. As we cherish our right to the free expression of religion here at home, our State Department needs to reflect our dedication to protecting this right in our diplomatic engagements abroad.

Religious minorities in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and countless other countries are left without an advocate in the political process of their respective governments. H.R. 440 would provide an envoy that can advocate for these religious minorities and focus solely on their plight while being able to avoid bureaucratic red tape. As basic human rights are increasingly under assault in this region, our government needs to rapidly respond to the new challenges rapidly emerging. It is in our strategic interest to pass this legislation. I ask the Members to join me in supporting it.


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