Persecution of Christians close to genocide

The persecution of Christians is at near genocide levels in some parts of the world, says an interim report ordered by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The review estimates that one in three people suffer from religious persecution. Of these, Christians are the most persecuted.

Hunt says he thinks “political correctness” has played a part in the issue not being confronted.

The report says the main impact of “genocidal acts against Christians is exodus” and that Christianity faced being “wiped out” from parts of the Middle East.

It points to figures claiming Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while in Iraq, the Christian population has fallen from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000.

Millions of Christians in the region have been uprooted from their homes and many have been killed, kidnapped, imprisoned and discriminated against.

The report also highlights discrimination across south-east Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and in east Asia – often driven by state authoritarianism.

“In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”

Religion “is at risk of disappearing” in some parts of the world.

Hunt, who commissioned the review on Boxing Day 2018 amid an outcry over the treatment of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who faced death threats after being acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan, says he thinks governments have been “asleep” over the persecution of Christians.

In his opinion, the report and the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka had “woken everyone up with an enormous shock”.

“I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonisers.

“That has perhaps created an awkwardness in talking about this issue – the role of missionaries was always a controversial one and that has, I think, also led some people to shy away from this topic.

“What we have forgotten in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet.”

The review is due to publish its final findings within the next few months.


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