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2/23/2011 SANTA ANA, Calif. (ChristianNewsWire) – The countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Pakistan are among the top 11 persecutors of Christians, according to the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List.

And countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya have drawn worldwide attention the last few weeks as their citizens have taken to the streets to protest lack of basic human rights, along with other issues. On Feb. 11 the demand for reforms by protesters led to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In addition, there have been numerous attacks against Christians since Christmas. On New Year’s Day a suicide bomber killed 22 Christians in front of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt. Also, according to Open Doors, over 120 Iranian Christians have been arrested since December, including several worshipping in a home.
To address some of the abuses of religious freedom, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has introduced H.R. 440, a House bill which would create the post of “Special Envoy.” According to the bill, its main focus is to have the special envoy promote religious freedom of minorities in countries of the Near East and South Central Asia.
The Near East Countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and also the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The South Central Asia countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. All of these countries are on the World Watch List’s top 50 except Israel, Lebanon, Nepal and Kazakhstan.
The Special Envoy would be appointed by the President and report to the President and Secretary of State.
“Open Doors USA supports this bill for a special envoy because these are mostly the same countries in which some of the worst persecution against Christians exists,” says Open Doors USA Advocacy Director Lindsay Vessey. “This effort to draw more attention to the lack of religious freedom and to empower the special envoy to take action to improve the situation of persecuted minorities is a much-needed and timely initiative by Congressman Wolf. I applaud his tireless leadership in the promotion of international religious freedom.
“Hopefully, if this bill is passed, the special envoy would increase the profile of religious freedom within the foreign policy establishment. The bottom line is this bill has the potential to significantly benefit suffering Christians worldwide.”
Open Doors USA is urging people to let their U.S. Representative know that they support the bill and ask them to co-sponsor it.
“Please take a moment to ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor this important bill.  Receiving requests from their constituents is incredibly influential in convincing members to support a bill,” states Vessey.