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AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty
World News

UN day for victims of religious persecution must lead to change

by Cara Bentley

Similar to days such as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the 22nd August aims to lead to greater awareness of the prevalence of religious persecution and the violence faced by minorities, such as by Christians in the Middle East and Yazidis in Myanmar, and lead to change across the world in the experience of religious groups. 

The recent report by the Bishop of Truro highlighted the difficulties Christians face in Iraq, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, among other countries, because of factors like blasphemy laws, religious conflict and the oppression of churches. 

Religious freedom charity Open Doors have been highlighting how Christians in North Korea face labour camps, with one Christian saying there was a sign up saying: "Do not try to escape; you will be killed". 

Many Christians have fled countries like Somalia and Pakistan, such as the Bakhsh family who are seeking asylum in Scotland. 

This month, a pastor was killed in Mexico during the church service. 

Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, international executive president of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, said: "It is important that 22nd August does not become an end in itself, but triggers a process that motivates the international community to implement a coordinated plan of action to end religious persecution and prevent it in the future."

Mervyn Thomas from anti-poverty charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide told Premier: "First thing we can do is pray.

"You can write letters of protest to governments and to ambassadors.

"The third thing we can do is to write letters and cards of encouragement to people who are in prison...families of people in prison.

"It doesn't take long to sit down and write a card and say 'we're thinking of you, we're praying for you'. And if it's a Christian maybe a Bible verse."

Read more about how the day started here.

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