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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:06 pm on 25th October 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 3:06 pm, 25th October 2018

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and associate myself entirely with the sentiment that he and my hon. Friend Kevin Foster expressed. There is nothing to fear when one has faith, well founded, and any system that fears people of faith is a system that is in deep trouble. Such is the nature of tyranny and oppressive regimes everywhere.

The Christian and Yazidi minorities of northern Iraq were decimated by Daesh in 2014. Iraq’s Christian community once numbered 1.5 million, but today probably fewer than 200,000 Christians remain. Mark Green, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, recently described the region in The Washington Post as

“a land of pain…It’s very clear what the Yazidi have gone through is as disturbing as I can describe, and is ongoing. They have families that have been broken up and disappeared, as well as murder, rape and torture.”

I pay tribute to the recently announced Nobel peace prize winners, the Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman, for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence in conflict. Ms Murad is 25 years old. I have a son of a similar age. The Wall Street Journal, when reporting the award of the Nobel peace prize, wrote:

“Ms. Murad was among some 6,000 Yazidis who were rounded up by Islamic State militants when they overran northern Iraq in the summer of 2014.

Hundreds of adult men, including six of Ms. Murad’s brothers and stepbrothers, were murdered, while women and girls—as young as nine, the U.N. reported—were awarded to fighters who raped and sold them in slave markets. Ms. Murad escaped after three months and became one of the first Yazidi women to speak out about the horrors”.

Ms Murad wrote in August:

“We, and the Yazidi community generally, need more than sympathy.”

What is being done by Her Majesty’s Government to offer aid, protection and security to the Christian and Yazidi communities in northern Iraq?