Persecution for Religion or Belief

Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons on 22nd July 2021.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

What assessment the Church of England has made of trends in the level of persecution of people for their religion or belief in 2021.

Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

What assessment the Church of England has made of trends in the level of persecution of people for their religion or belief in 2021.

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar

What assessment the Church of England has made of trends in the level of persecution of people for their religion or belief in 2021.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am enormously grateful to all three of my right hon. and hon. Friends for continuing to bring the House’s attention to the ongoing, horrific levels of persecution of people for their religion or belief.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

How concerned is my hon. Friend about the rise of persecution of Christians in India, and is there anything to be done?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

My right hon. Friend is right about the reports that keep coming out of India. The Church is pressing the Government to see India as a country of particular concern where targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for severe violations of religious freedom may be needed. Overseas development assistance should be used to advance the human rights of people of all faiths in India.

Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

My hon. Friend will be aware of the terrible conflict currently raging in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. There have been disturbing reports of violence against Christians and shocking allegations that priests and nuns have been attacked and killed. What is the Church doing to help ensure that Christians are protected in Tigray and that Ethiopia’s religious diversity is safeguarded?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the situation in Tigray is truly desperate. Both churches and mosques are being attacked and looted and, in some cases, their worshippers killed. Our bishops have raised their concerns forcefully with the Ethiopian ambassador and have asked our Ministers to relay their concerns to the newly elected Ethiopian Government.

Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar

In Nigeria, violence against Christians is ongoing. Since December, there have been 10 mass kidnappings and repeated attacks on churches and religious leaders. The week before last, 30 people were killed and 200 homes and four churches were destroyed. What is the Church doing to bring that to global leaders’ attention so that this appalling suffering can be brought to an end?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue. We sometimes need to pause for a moment to take in the enormity of what is happening. The Church of England continues to press the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to provide the financial and technical assistance necessary to address these horrendous violations of religious freedom. The Church is also working to enable parliamentarians in Nigeria and elsewhere to hold to account those who perpetuate such horrific violence. These victims will not be forgotten by us.