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

My hon. Friend makes a powerful point, and I am grateful to him for putting it on the record.

This is a harrowing debate—rightly, because we need to bring these matters into the public domain, and to keep doing so until things get better. However, I end my speech by drawing the House’s attention to examples of one people group or faith coming to the aid of another that is being persecuted. In the second world war, when Jews were being rounded up into railway trucks for deportation, the Patriarch of Romania, in full ecclesiastical dress, came to the station and quoted the words of Ruth from the Old Testament:

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

We need more of that type of intervention.

In Pakistan, about which we have heard quite a lot today, on the Sunday a week after the Peshawar bomb, Muslims formed a human chain around some churches to protect Christians who were going to worship. In Oman, a Muslim country, it is possible for Christians to worship openly in the Jesus the Good Shepherd church in Muscat; I have been able to worship there myself. That is an example that other Muslim countries should follow. In Mandera in Kenya, Muslims stood up for Christians who were being attacked, saying, “You kill all of us or you kill none of us.”

As I say, this is rightly a grim debate, because these facts deserve much greater circulation, and all of us want follow-through from the Government. However, it is important to look at how we can do things differently, and to look at signs of hope and examples of people from one faith standing up against the persecution of people from another.

I thank the Foreign Secretary for commissioning this excellent report. He has taken a bold and important step in opening the Government up to challenge. He did that for good reason. We all look forward to the Government following through on the recommendations, as they very much need to.