Approximately two years after making his promise to name Canada’s first Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to the announcement Tuesday at a Toronto-area mosque and community centre. Harper has invited representatives of a diverse array of religious groups to an event Tuesday. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino are also set to make an appearance.
This new position was inspired by the 2011 assassination of Pakistani Christian lawmaker Shahba Bhatti. Bhatti had been pushing the federal government to encourage the Pakistani government to protect its religious minorities better. However, this position was seemingly hard to fill, since as many as three potential candidates had turned down the offer.
Critics warn that by creating an Ambassador for Religious Freedom, the government is creating a risk of focusing too much attention on religion, and detracting much needed attention from other human rights abuses. The position also raises questions regarding the plight atheists and other religious skeptics who suffer from discrimination in many parts of the world.
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