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World News

Govt asked what they're doing about Christian persecution in Mozambique

by Cara Bentley

A Christian peer has asked the Government what they know about religious persecution in Mozambique and whether they have spoken to local clergy. 

Church goers in the African nation, which borders Zimbabwe, have endured many attacks, with some having died, and many churches being burnt. There are also reports that girls are being forced into sexual slavery in the country and boys coerced into extremism. 

In a written question, Christian member of the House of Lords Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the Government "what assessment they have made of reports of churches being burned down, and of Christians being attacked, in northern Mozambique; and what discussions they have had, if any, with the Bishop of Pemba in northern Mozambique about such reports."

Baroness Sugg, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs replied: "We remain deeply concerned at the scale of Freedom of Religion or Belief violations in many parts of the world. We recognise that people's religion and gender can increase their vulnerabilities, particularly those from minority groups. The Government has committed to implementing the Bishop of Truro's 22 recommendations in full. This work is being overseen by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP. 11 of the recommendations have already been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented. Work is ongoing to implement all the recommendations in a way that will bring real improvements to the lives of those persecuted because of their faith, belief, or because they have no religious belief."

The recommendations from Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen's report include improving the religious literacy of diplomacy workers and civil servants and also imposing sanctions where possible on countries that do not protect religious freedom. 

She continued: "We are aware that homes and commercial buildings have been targeted by groups with links to Islamic extremism in certain areas of northern Mozambique, particularly in the coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia on 23 March. The insurgents have attacked and terrorised all the peoples of Cabo Delgado, irrespective of their beliefs. The UK strongly condemns any targeting of civilians by insurgent groups, regardless of their religion."

Baroness Sugg also said that the British High Commission hopes to reinstate a planned visit to Cabo Delgado to meet faith leaders, including the Bishop of Pemba once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. 

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