I beg to move,
That this House
deplores the persecution of Christians overseas;
supports freedom of religion or belief in all countries throughout the world;
welcomes the work undertaken by the Bishop of Truro in this area;
and calls on the Government to do more with the diplomatic and other tools at its disposal to prevail on the governments of countries in which persecution of Christians is tolerated or encouraged to end that persecution and to protect the right to freedom of religion or belief.
I thank, especially, Jim Shannon, my hon. Friend Fiona Bruce and David Linden, for their work in securing the debate. I congratulate the Bishop of Truro on his report, which was published 10 days ago. I also thank Open Doors and Aid to the Church in Need for their tireless work on this issue.
Around the world, there are horrifying stories of Christians being attacked and often killed, of churches being destroyed, and of Christians being persecuted and prevented from worshipping. This is happening on an industrial scale in multiple countries. Often, the Governments in those countries turn a blind eye, or are even responsible for the persecution themselves. Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. The International Society of Human Rights says that 80% of religious persecution in the world is against Christians. Open Doors estimates that 245 million Christians around the world—one in nine—face persecution. Here are some examples.
In April 2017, a young Nigerian woman, Dorkas Zakka, was murdered, along with 12 others, simply for attending an Easter mass. Local priest Father Alexander Yeycock said that Nigerian military units stood by and did nothing while the murders took place. In November 2017, in Mina, Egypt, a mob surrounded a Coptic church threatening worshippers inside, many of whom were also physically attacked. Local Coptic leader Anba Macarius said that the Egyptian authorities had done nothing to bring those responsible to justice.