.- Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has called on President Barack Obama to follow up on his meeting with Pope Francis by backing the creation of a special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and south central Asia.
“I urge you to put your words into action, lest inaction be perceived as indifference,” Wolf wrote in a March 27 letter to Obama.
“The scope of religious persecution around the world, but especially in the Middle East is gravely concerning, and ought to alarm any person of conscience.”
While the congressman said he did not think a special envoy would on its own solve the “vast” problem of persecution, “it would provide much-needed hope and comfort to communities desperate to know that the United States stands with them.”
Wolf cited the president’s own words about his meeting with Pope Francis; Obama had said the meeting included the topic of “the potential persecution of Christians.”
“I reaffirmed that it is central to U.S. foreign policy that we protect the interests of religious minorities around the world,” Obama said in his public account of the meeting.
Wolf agreed that the protection of religious minorities should be central in U.S. policy, yet adding that “this has sadly not rung true in recent years.”
He said persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East is “not simply potential.”
Rather, they face “a very real threat” of discrimination, violence, and sometimes death every day.
The congressman, who authored a March 2013 report on religious persecution, cited the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Copts from Egypt and Christians from Iraq.
In Iraq, “churches have been targeted, believers kid