(No. 219 - August 3, 2011 - 10 p.m. ET) John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, today issued the following statement condemning yesterday’s bombing outside a Syrian Catholic church in Kirkuk, Iraq:
"Attacks aimed at intimidating specific religious groups are utterly unacceptable. We denounce this attempt to suppress basic human rights and religious freedom.
"Today, I met with Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and we discussed issues related to religious freedom and tolerance.
"Canada remains deeply concerned about the plight of the Iraqi minorities, including the Christian community, who are especially vulnerable to violence. Bringing the perpetrators to justice would be an important step.
"In the recent Speech from the Throne, our government renewed its pledge to create an office of religious freedom to monitor and combat precisely this type of religious hatred and promote freedom of religion worldwide.
"The issue of international freedom of religion is a matter that we take very seriously. While the office of religious freedom is still in the planning stages, we envision it as part of our efforts to promote human rights, encourage the protection of religious minorities around the world and promote Canadian values."
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