During a three hour debate in the House of Commons, British MPs highlighted the widespread oppression and killing of Christians around the world, with one saying that somewhere in the world a Christian is killed every 11 minutes.
The subject of the persecution of Christians is one that is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. The plight of Syrian Christians has become especially notable with massacres left largely unreported by the media and many forced to flee their homes.
MP Jim Shannon, the Democratic Unionist MP for Strangford, said that the persecution of Christians around the world is “the biggest story in the world that has never been told,” according to Christian Today Australia.
Shannon said that 200 million Christians will be targeted for persecution because of their faith this year alone, while 500 million live in what he called “dangerous neighborhoods.”
“That shows the magnitude of the problem of persecuted Christians,” Shannon said.
Christian Today reported that the House was united across party lines over the issue of the persecution of Christians.
Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, said that it is now “beyond doubt … [that] Christians are the most persecuted single group in the world today on grounds of religion,” according to Christian Today.
“There is now practically no country — from Morocco to Pakistan — in which Christians can freely practice their religion. That must be a matter of real concern to this House,” Church Commissioner and Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry said.
Baldry said that the celebration of Christmas will be virtually non-existent in many of the historically biblical lands.
“Joseph would not now be advised to take Mary to Egypt to avoid the dangers of Herod, because Jesus would just not have been safe there today,” Baldry said.
Democratic Unionist David Simpson brought up the persecution of Christians in India, where he said there has been “kidnappings, forced marriages, 18,000 people injured, 6,000 houses and 296 churches and small places of Christian worship burned and pastors murdered.”
Mark Field, the Tory MP for London and Westminster, said that the persecution of Christians seems to be accepted in a way that it would never be if other faiths were being targeted.
“If this were happening to almost any other religious group it would be something of a national scandal,” Field said.
Kerry McCarthy, the shadow foreign office minister, said that they should not highlight one kind of persecution over another.
Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, agreed in saying that they should “be angry about any persecution of any religion” while saying that the majority of human rights violations are directed at Christians, according to Independent Catholic News.
There was also agreement among people of different faiths, with Conservative MP Rehman Chishti, who said he comes from a Muslim background, agreeing that the persecution of Christians must be highlighted.
“When I saw that the topic was ‘Persecution of Christians in the 21st century’, I knew that it was absolutely right and proper to have a debate on that subject. It is important for the world to realise that persecution goes on,” Chishti said.
Chishti, who said his father was an imam, called the persecution of Christians “completely and utterly unacceptable” and a “very sad state of affairs.”
Chishti also said that his good friend Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, spoke to him about the persecution faced by Christians around the globe.
“He told me that the persecution of Christians was taking place in more than 130 of the 190 countries in the world at the moment,” Chishti said.
Maplecroft, a risk analysis company based in the UK, reported that the number of nations posing an extreme risk of human rights violations to their population has risen by 70 percent over the last five years alone, according to Christian Today Australia.
Of 197 countries researched for their 2014 Human Rights Risk Atlas, Maplecroft reports that 34 countries pose an extreme risk. In 2008, 20 countries posed that risk.
Most of the nations are in the Middle East and Africa with Syria at the top of the list followed by Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Chishti also pointed out that Amnesty International and other major organizations are calling for Pakistan to repeal their blasphemy laws that have been used to persecute minority faiths, including Christians.
Indeed, mere accusations of blasphemy and the desecration of Qur’ans have led to mob violence and the burning of over 100 Christian homes in a single incident.
“The persecution of Christians has been a much overlooked issue for too long, and the severity of the situation, which is worsening in many parts of the world, has been largely ignored,” said Mervyn Thomas, the chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
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