CONGLETON MP Fiona Bruce has said in a House of Commons debate that UK citizens should have the right to express their chosen faith without any stigma.

In her speech, Fiona detailed several cases of infringements on the right to freedom of religion or belief, as well as the position of religious minorities and atheists in Egypt.

She said: “I encourage the UK Government to seek to persuade the Egyptian Government to end discriminatory and restrictive policies, including legislation banning atheism and minority faith groups, as well as legislation restricting church construction, and processes that make registration of conversion challenging.”

It was highlighted in the debate how Coptic Christians and atheists in Egypt can often be too afraid to publicly declare their position for fear of being disowned, labelled mentally ill, discriminated against and harassed.

Regarding instances in the UK, Fiona drew attention to the long struggle to securing our right to freedom of religion or belief in this country and the need to ensure this right is not weakened.

Fiona has also expressed concern of the idea that those wanting to hold public should have to swear an oath supporting a currently undefined set of 21st-century British values, suggesting this could lead to going back to time when such tests were applied to professions such as teachers, Army officers and lawyers.

She said: “The issue of freedom of religion, belief and expression in our country merits much further attention.

“Government need to ensure that UK laws that target violent extremism do so precisely and do not impinge on the religious freedoms of peaceable citizens, whose faith often motivates them to contribute very positively to society.

“To that end, Government should consider requiring officials to include religious belief in the equalities impact assessment, along with the current criteria of race, disability and gender, to ensure protection from discrimination.”