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United Kingdom to defend persecuted Christians

MANCHESTER (CNS): British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said in a July 8 news conference in London said the government would commit itself to a robust defense of persecuted Christians following a new report into their plight.
 
He said the report would lead to a “sea change in our approach” to the global persecution of Christians.
 
“We are working across government to agree (on) a formal collective response as soon as possible,” said Hunt, who along with Boris Johnson is one of two candidates competing to be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK).
 
Hunt said he commissioned Anglican Bishop Philip Mounstephen of Truro, to prepare the independent report last December after learning that “almost a quarter of a billion Christians were still enduring persecution around the world.”
 
Hunt, an Anglican, said, “The evidence shows sadly that the situation is becoming worse, The number of countries where Christians suffer because of their faith rose from 128 in 2015 to 144 a year later. In the Middle East, the very survival of Christianity as a living religion is in doubt.”
 
He said, “A century ago, 20 per cent of the region’s people were Christians; today the figure is below five per cent.” 
 
Hunt said that, as foreign secretary, he prioritised helping Rohingya Muslims, “who are targets of a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing” by the army of Myanmar.
 
“But I am not convinced that our efforts on behalf of Christians have always matched the scale of the problem, or indeed have reflected the evidence that it is Christians who frequently endure the heaviest burden of persecution. Indeed, around the world, Christians are believed to be targets of about 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination or persecution,” Hunt said.
 
He blamed the inadequate response by the UK on “misguided political correctness—or an instinctive reluctance to talk about religion.”
 
The 176-page final report recommends that Britain seek a new UN Security Council resolution to require all of the nations of the Middle East and North Africa to protect Christians and permit UN observers to monitor security measures.
 
It suggests that new linguistic terms—such as Christophobia—be sought to describe anti-Christian discrimination in the same way that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are used to describe acts of violence toward Muslims and Jews.
 
The report says that, post-Brexit, the UK should establish independent national sanctions on countries where Christians are persecuted for the faith. It also says a fund should be established to help persecuted Christians and to care for those who have escaped persecution.
 
Foreign Office staff—at home and abroad—should also be required to undergo “mandatory training on religious literacy, subject to resources,” the report said.

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