UK Government report plays down growing Christian persecution

Created on: 22nd April 2013

A government report on human rights violations has been attacked by the UK head of an international Catholic charity for not taking the growing problem of Christian persecution seriously.  The Foreign and Commonwealth office have been criticized for glossing over the persecution of Christians.

The National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), Neville Kyrke-Smith, also criticised the FCO 2012 Report on human Rights and Democracy, saying that it “Downplays the scale of Christian persecution.”

Although he commended the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for considering issues related to religious freedom in its report, he criticised it for its lack of coverage regarding the intolerance towards Christians.

Neville Kyrke-Smith made reference to the many Christians that have fled the Middle East because of persecution, notably Iraq and stated that the report failed to cover these problems adequately.  He went on to say that: “While the report describes attacks on members of the Iraq’s LGBT community and Emos, it is virtually silent about the various attacks on Christians.”

The FCO have shown a disregard to the persecution faced by Christians, especially considering that three quarters of Christians have fled Iraq. He continued: “Perhaps there are so few left in the country after repeated attacks and bombings that they are no longer seen as significant.”

He then referred to research stating that 75 per cent of all religious hatred in the world is directed against Christians: “The FCO must not gloss over the problems faced by Christians in these countries, leaving serious cases of religious hatred unacknowledged and unmentioned.

He stated:“It must make sure that the voices of all persecuted groups are heard and responded to.”
Further research shows that 200 million Christians face discrimination or persecution and other reports show that at least 100,000 are killed for their Christian faith every year.

He also expressed grave disappointment in the fact that the problems experienced by Christian women were given little to no consideration at all. Evidence given at the US Helsinki Commission in 2011, reflected that up to 800 Coptic Christian women have been kidnapped since 2009.
There was also no mention of the persecution to Christian women in Pakistan.  “Women from religious minorities in Pakistan are more likely to experience sexual harassment or be raped, so it was particularly distressing to find this aspect entirely overlooked.”

“To give just one, heart-rending, example, in March 2012, a 14 year old Christian girl was repeatedly raped by a policeman at gun point, while her grandparents were bound and gagged in the next room. These pressing and critical issues should have found space in the FCO report-but they did not.”

There was also no mention of China’s underground Catholic clergy in detention of the seizure of property belonging to Three-Self Patriotic Movement, established for Protestant Christians, he said there were “gaps in the authors ‘knowledge.’

Mr Kyrke-Smith concluded: “Sometimes we are not always aware of the scale of the problem in the West, as some Christian communities are afraid to speak out about the reality as it could make matters worse. But that means that those of us in the West who are aware of their suffering have a moral responsibility to do so on their behalf and highlight the dangers to and suffering of some communities.”

Posted by David Pilkington

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