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Indeed, an app promoted last year by the Muslim Brotherhood encouraged the incitement of hatred against Christians and against Muslims who joined the British Army, identifying them as people to be targeted and killed. We can see where this fanaticism can go and how it is driven.
Some years ago, before I was a Member of Parliament, I visited the underground Church in China and met its worship leaders. Even today, they live in constant fear of persecution. They know they could be imprisoned for evangelising even members of their own family.
The watch list that has been widely debated today gives the statistic that 5,500 churches in mainland China have been destroyed, closed or confiscated in the past two years, which is a terrible indictment of a country we wish to partner on some major projects and with which we have great links. Indeed, several centuries ago, the first ambassador to mainland China hailed from Stranocum near Ballymoney in my constituency. There have always been great links between our nation and China, but the statistic on churches is appalling.
Brexit trade deals offer an opportunity—that with trade comes liberty of religious belief. We, our Ministers and our Government should be unashamed about asking for liberty of religious belief to go hand in hand with trade deals. We should open up the world, not to proselytise or evangelise but to allow freedom of belief and difference to abound.
As the Speaker’s Chair rightly proclaims:
“The hand that deals justly is a sweet smelling ointment. A heedful and faithful mind is conscious of righteousness.”