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Christian persecution raised by MP in last PMQs

by Cara Bentley

In the last Prime Minister's Questions before the summer recess the MP for Croydon South squeezed in a question about Christian persecution, he said: "Around the world Christians are facing a rising tide of persecution and violence. Does the Prime Minister share my concern at this trend and in particular cases like those of Sunil Saleem, a Christians man who was beaten to death at a hospital in Lahore, in Pakistan? Or 33 women in Eritrea who were imprisoned simply for praying? In this country we quite rightly protect religious freedoms, will her government step up efforts to get other countries to respect religious freedoms?"

One of the cases he mentioned was that of Sunil Saleem, who was attacked in hospital by security guards and died. 

The Prime Minister replied: "As a government, we stand with persecuted Christians all over the world and we will continue to support them. I think it is hard to comprehend almost today that we still see people being attacked and murdered because of their Christianity but we must reaffirm our determination to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions and beliefs and for them to practice their beliefs in peace and security."

She continued: "I'm very pleased that I've been able to appoint the noble lord, Lord Ahmad, as the government's special envoy for freedom of religion and belief and he will be doing certainly what my Honorable friend is saying, working with other countries to encourage them to recognise the important of allowing people to have the freedom to practise their religion, practise their beliefs in freedom and security."

Dr Matthew Rees, Senior Policy and Advocacy Advisor, said, "I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister's whole hearted support for this issue. We have been working with Chris Philp for some time and it is great to see him advocating for persecuted Christians."

Chris Philp was alerted to Christian persecution through one of his constituents who is an Open Doors supporter, Reverend Sue Thomas. Rev. Thomas met with Chris Philp as part of an Open Doors 'Meet your MP Day', held at Westminster in July 2017 where she raised the issue of persecuted Christians and specifically highlighted the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria with him.

In May 2018 Chris Philp organised a Westminster Hall debate about persecuted Christians overseas, with help from Open Doors.

Reverend Sue Thomas said, "I had no idea this issue would be carried forward so rapidly into the processes of Parliament and debate. To hear Chris speak out in Prime Minister's questions about Christians being harmed and killed, last Wednesday, is amazing. He has become the greatest advocate on their behalf, drawing together cross party support to speak up for those who have no voice. I am so pleased for the support that Chris is giving so brilliantly."

Dr Matthew Rees, said, "This goes to show that when constituents take action and present their MP with a passionate account of why they should champion the persecuted church in Parliament, it can really make a difference. Thanks to one supporter meeting Chris Philp MP last July, the Prime Minister has now heard about the plight of Christians in Pakistan and Eritrea. I would encourage every Christian to consider meeting their MP to discuss the persecution of Christians worldwide. The advocacy team at Open Doors would be pleased to support anyone who wants to get involved."

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