Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 16th January 2015.

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Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Conservative, The Wrekin

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the extent of persecution of Christians in (a) Nigeria and (b) Iran.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

Freedom of religion or belief is a key human rights priority for this Government. We regularly urge governments at senior levels to uphold the rights of all, including Christians. We work to build international consensus on freedom of religion or belief in multilateral bodies such as the UN, and support practical projects with civil society and faith groups. In Nigeria the two main religions, Christianity and Islam, have a history of tolerance and coexistence. Boko Haram are attempting to challenge Nigeria’s secular state and democratic constitution by attacking all Nigerians who do not follow their extremist and intolerant views. Their activities, which do not command widespread support, have caused immense suffering in both Muslim and Christian communities. We are committed to playing our part in helping Nigeria combat these extremists. In Iran, we are disappointed that comments made by President Rouhani in 2013 in support of the rights of religious minorities have not brought any change in his government’s approach over the past year. Christians, although recognised under Iranian law, have continued to be persecuted. Evangelical Christians, Iranian converts to Christianity and those involved in house churches have found themselves particularly singled out for harassment and arrest. The UK has repeatedly called on the Iranian government to end all persecution of individuals on the basis of their faith, and to guarantee the human rights of all Iranians.

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