World Bulletin / News Desk
Canada's ambassador of religious freedom returned home from Turkey defeated after a failed attempt to criticize the country on its human rights record.
Andrew Bennet had arrived in Turkey to discuss the expropriation of properties belonging to Christian and Jewish minorities in the country, even though Turkey is already in the process of returning such properties back to their rightful owners following the announcement of the democratization packet in October.
His concern about religious freedoms in Turkey, however, backfired, as Turkish officials immediately raised their own concerns about religious freedoms in the Canadian state of Quebec, which recently banned all open displays of religious symbols in the public sector, including headscarves.
Bennett refused to take questions on the issue, saying that his mandate did not include domestic issues and therefore he had no authority to speak on them.
However, speaking to reporters in Washington, Bennet said "People in countries overseas where religious freedom is being violated are being imprisoned, tortured, killed because of their faith."
"In Canada, we have the courts. We have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. ... We can advance religious freedom overseas because we enjoy it in Canada. So that's the approach that I take."
At the same time Bennett praised Turkey for the strides it has taken to improve religious freedoms in the country.
Both Muslims and non-Muslim minorities have gained a number of new freedoms since the democratization packet officially removed bans on headscarves, as well as many other freedoms.
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