Persecution of Christians Overseas

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous Conservative, South West Bedfordshire 2:54 pm, 18th July 2019

On 31 May 2014, The Times newspaper had an editorial headlined “Spectators at the Carnage”. This was a charge against western politicians—we in this Chamber and others throughout the western world—who have not taken this issue sufficiently seriously. I am very grateful to my Friends who have brought this debate to Parliament.

Like many others, I follow what Open Doors says. We know from its report that some 245 million Christians are at “high”, “very high” or “extreme” risk of persecution. That figure is rising—only a few years ago, there were 200 million, so the situation is getting worse. In China, over 1,000 Christians have been detained without trial or have been unfairly arrested and hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims are being interred or the families are being separated. In Nigeria, 3,731 Christians were killed for their faith. The situation in China is getting worse: on the Open Doors world watch list, it has risen from 43rd to 27th place—a significant deterioration. For the first time, India has entered the top 10 countries of most concern.

The figures for deaths and for churches destroyed around the world are really serious. In 2016, there were over 4,000 deaths in Nigeria, with 198 churches destroyed. In the Central African Republic, 1,269 Christians were killed and 131 churches were destroyed. In Chad, 750 Christians were killed and 10 churches were destroyed. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 467 Christians were killed and 13 churches were destroyed. In Kenya, 225 Christians lost their lives, and in Cameroon 114 Christians were killed, with 10 churches destroyed. This is happening on a very large scale. William Wilberforce said to this House in 1791 that

“you may choose to look the other way but you can never…say that you did not know”.

That is as relevant now as it was then.