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Persecuted Christians under 'greater risk' due to coronavirus

by Premier Journalist
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Leading human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called on countries across the globe to adhere to the rule of law and protect fundamental rights and freedoms as they adopt restrictive measures to help stem the spread of covid-19. 

CSW said: “In these exceptional circumstances, saving lives will depend on rapid and effective government interventions and the temporary imposition of limitations on certain rights, including on the freedoms of religion or belief, assembly and association.

"While recognising and supporting legitimate limitations on public health grounds, it is also important to ensure these essential derogations are applied in a non-discriminatory manner; that they remain in place for no longer than the minimum period necessary to contain the spread of the virus, and that they are not instrumentalised to undermine the future enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

CSW also urged governments to be watchful of religious persecution, adding that "in the current climate religious communities that regularly experience violations may be targeted further, including with accusations of being ‘carriers’ of the virus.”   

As Premier previously reported, Christians have been subject to an uptick in abuse in recent weeks as various conspiracy theories about the spread of coronavirus continue to be perpetuated. In Northern Uganda, Muslims have been blaming Christians for coronavirus, suggesting that Chinese believers have been burning the Qur'an and, as a result, Allah is punishing people with sickness.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on every nation.  While fully understanding the need for states to adopt extraordinary measures that may limit certain rights and freedoms, we nevertheless urge them to ensure transparency and adhere to the rule of law."

"Unfortunately this pandemic also poses a specific threat to marginalised religious communities, which may now be at even greater risk.  We therefore call for greater vigilance on the part of the international community to ensure that  faith groups that ordinarily experience violations are afforded the same protections as others, and that any measures undertaken to combat the spread of Covid-19 are not exploited by authoritarian governments to consolidate power by curtailing fundamental rights and freedoms indefinitely.”

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