A UK government minister warned that Christianity is at risk of extinction in parts of the world where persecution is on the rise.
Lady Warsi highlighted the bombing of a church in Pakistan in September that left 85 people dead and the recent shooting attack on a Coptic wedding party in Egypt as a few examples of the growing trend of Christian persecution.
One might also add the reported massacre of Christians in Syria and the general targeting of the Syrian Christian population, the persecution of Christians in India, the recent persecution of Iranian Christians and the increasing danger faced by Christians in Egypt, among other examples.
Warsi, the Minister for Faith, said that the targeting of Christians and other religious minorities has become “a global crisis” and, as The Telegraph put it, “the gravest challenge facing the world this century.”
“A mass exodus is taking place, on a Biblical scale. In some places, there is a real danger that Christianity will become extinct,” Warsi, who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister in Britain, argues.
In 2014, Warsi will host an international summit to draft a plan to end violence against Christians, especially in countries like Syria that played a pivotal role in the birth of the faith.
In her speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Warsi pointed out that one out of every 10 Christians lives in a country where they are a minority, according to the BBC.
A large number of those who live as a minority are persecuted, according to Warsi.
“I’m concerned that the birthplace of Christianity, the parts of the world where Christianity first spread, is now seeing large sections of the Christian community leaving, and those that are remaining feeling persecuted,” Warsi said on the BBC Radio 4 Today program, according to the Guardian.
Warsi argued that there are significant advantages to pluralistic societies in a wide range of sectors, meaning that all have a vested interest in ensuring the survival of Christian populations in countries where they are a minority.
She points out that in some cases Christians were targeted for persecution because of perceived injustices committed by Western powers.
“Tragically, what’s happening is they are being seen as newcomers, being portrayed as an ‘other’ within that society, even though they have existed there for many, many centuries,” Warsi said, according to the Guardian.
Christians are seen as legitimate targets for attacks by states or extremists because of “what they perceive as actions of their co-religionists,” according to Warsi.
“This concept of collective punishment and them being seen as agents of the west or agents of regimes is wrong,” Warsi said. “We need to speak out and raise this with the countries where this is happening.”
Warsi has already taken steps in that direction, having what she called “very frank conversations” with Pakistani ministers. She told them that senior politicians in their country have an obligation to decry the persecution of Christians and establish standards of tolerance.
“There’s an international consensus, in the form of a Human Rights Council resolution on the treatment of minorities and tolerance towards other faiths. But we need to build political will behind that,” Warsi said.
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