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Persecution of Christians

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 6th February 2020.

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Photo of Bob Stewart Bob Stewart Conservative, Beckenham 3:38 pm, 6th February 2020

The Vatican suggested in 2014 that about 100,000 Christians were being severely persecuted. Open Doors suggests that 11 Christians are killed every day—or 4,000 a year. Christians are probably the most persecuted religious sect in the world. Unfortunately, most of that persecution takes place in Muslim countries. The top 11 countries on the Open Doors watch list are classified as places where there is extreme persecution. North Korea is at No. 1; then there is Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya, with Pakistan at No. 5. We then have Eritrea; Sudan, where my wife operated for the International Committee of the Red Cross; Yemen, where I was when I was a boy; Iran and India, which is No. 10; and Syria at No. 11. The watch list classifies all those countries as extremely likely to persecute Christians—by the way, just outside that at No. 12 is Nigeria, which we have heard quite a lot about.

I want to name-check a few of those countries—some have not been referred to so far—starting with North Korea. There is only one god in North Korea and it is Kim Jong-un. If people do not worship Kim Jong-un and they do not have his picture in their house, they are in trouble. There are apparently about 300,000 Christians in North Korea. A considerable proportion of them are in camps and their chances of getting out are slight.

Afghanistan, a country where we have given blood to help, is No. 2. We have done so much to try to help that country. Family members give up their families for execution and if someone is a Christian there, they are likely to end up in a mental hospital. It is appalling.

Pakistan, a country that we are very friendly with, is No. 5. As my hon. Friend Jim Shannon highlighted, Pakistan considers Christians as second-class citizens. They are not allowed to have a decent job. Two Christians died because they were given inadequate clothing to work in the sewers. The law is against Christians. The anti-blasphemy laws are arrowed at Christians.

In India, for goodness’ sake—the largest democracy in the world—thousands of Christians are persecuted every year. Why? Why are they doing this? How can they do it? I just do not understand how India can allow that to happen.

No. 12 is Nigeria, and my hon. Friend Fiona Bruce has said enough about that to shock us.

No. 13 is Saudi Arabia, whose elite come to our country, live in London, dress the way they like, worship the way they like, do what they like and then go back and impose extreme sharia law. People cannot even have a church in Saudi Arabia—is that not disgraceful for a modern country? If someone is an expatriate in Saudi Arabia, they are not allowed to show that they are a Christian, otherwise they might be arrested or expelled from the country.