Religious Persecution - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:45 pm on 11th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Elton Lord Elton Conservative 2:45 pm, 11th July 2019

I am absolutely with the noble Lord; he has just got there quicker than me—another sign of impatience in the audience. It is more complicated than that because a lot of persecution, as I have just demonstrated, is between people of the same faith. That is a challenge to us all. However, there is something we can do in our own community, first of all, because the atrocities that affect the Ahmadis also affect, on a far greater scale, the Christians in Pakistan. It is a mystery to me why we continue to pour in huge sums of money in aid without raising any concern about something which is part of the Foreign Office brief. I look to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, to speak on this: he is well practised but not all noble Lords may have heard him do so.

I welcome the submission of the Truro report, which burst amazingly on to the scene just a couple of days ago. It is admirable, but its terms of reference are too narrow. It is concerned with only the Christian faith. We are here to try to redress that balance—to show that, as Christians, we believe and see that we are all involved in this together, and that the death of someone of another faith is as much a violation of God’s peace as the death of one of ours. That was the substance of the submissions of the Cardinal Archbishop and the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Bishop of Truro on his call for evidence.

Maybe the World Council of Churches can do something on this but, however much we are strengthened by recognising and acting on community and seeking to change those already caught up in this vile problem, that is simply to clip the growth at the top of the tree. We need to tackle the roots. If only we had some central non-religious body that could instigate and foster programmes to address young people in all countries and of all creeds and draw them away from traditions of discrimination that are buoyed up by the “us and them” instinct, whether they are exploited by politicians, clerics or simply criminals. If only. Well, we have one: the Commonwealth. It has already started working to make community, the shared good of the nations, a reality and not a dream. I am being looked at.