International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day — [Mr Charles Walker in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 1:30 pm, 25th October 2018

I thank the hon. Gentleman for reminding us of that case. He is absolutely right. The stories in the press in the past few days have been horrendous. We have seen the establishment of what cannot be called anything other than stalags—concentration camps—where people are subjected in every way, emotionally and physically, to efforts to change their views. Those Uyghur Muslims are among the people we speak up for today. I chair the all-party group on international freedom of religion or belief, which speaks out for people of Christian faith, of other faiths and of no faith. I also chair the APPG on Pakistani minorities. I am particularly interested in the issue the hon. Gentleman mentions, and I thank him for doing so.

Closer to home—we should not take away from what is happening here—there has been a 40% increase in hate crime on the basis of religious belief in England and Wales, and it is reported that churches in occupied territories in Ukraine have been denied registration and declared illegal. I am sure hon. Members will discuss those issues in much more detail—I intend to give just a general introduction—but I raise them to highlight the grave importance of International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day. Now more than ever, we must come together to stand up for those who suffer intolerance and persecution.