The Foreign Secretary says a report into the persecution of Christians around the world is a "wake up call" that demands action.
The Bishop of Truro's independent review says Christians are the victim of 80 percent of all persecution crimes globally. It exposes a problem that many people in the west may not realise exists, described by one newspaper journalist as 'the greatest story never told of the early 21st century'.
Chris Mountford reports...
The scale of persecution:
The Foreign Office-commissioned report outlines the persecution of Christians as a global problem and an "urgent human rights issue" that has been overlooked by Western countries.
It is claimed that as much as one-third of the world's population suffers from religious persecution in some form. Worryingly, evidence suggests that acts of violence and other intimidation are becoming more widespread.
Whilst persecution isn't limited to Christian believers, the report's author, the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, says research consistently indicates that Christians are "the most widely targeted religious community".
It is estimated that 245 million Christians face high levels of persecution in 2019, an increase from 215 million in 2018. Whilst Christians in 50 countries face high levels of persecution, there are 11 countries where the level of threat is stated to be extreme.
The increase is attributed to a number of factors including "aggressive nationalism" or "ultra-nationalism" in some countries as well as from Islamist militia groups.
Addressing the issue:
The Bishop of Truro's report claimed there was a number of reasons why the UK Government had been blind to the issue, including post-colonial guilt, It said there was "a sense that we have interfered uninvited in certain contexts in the past so we should not do so again."
The Bishop said he did not want to give a special pleading for Christians, but called for persecuted Christians to get "a fair share of the UK's concern and attention".
22 recommendations are made in the report, which include the naming of a definition of anti-Christian discrimination and persecution, similar to those applied to Islamophobia and antisemitism.
Speaking to journalists at the publication of the report, the Foreign Secretary said the UK must take a firmer stance on the persecution of Christians around the world. He said, "The sense of misguided political correctness that has stopped us standing up for Christians overseas must end. At home we all benefit from living in a tolerant, diverse society and we should not be afraid of promoting those values abroad.
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