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Foreign Office reviews Christian persecution

Release welcomes the first independent review of Britain’s support for persecuted Christians, launched by the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on January 30.

A quarter of a billion Christians are suffering some sort of persecution all over the world, and we know that a number of the countries where this happens are countries that we don’t necessarily talk about,’ said
Jeremy Hunt.

‘We wanted to ask ourselves a question as to whether we really are doing as much as we possibly could.’

The unprecedented review will be led by the Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, and will make recommendations on how the government can better support Christians under threat.

‘The evidence is that 80 per cent of all the people who are suffering religious persecution are Christian,’ said Mr Hunt.

‘Where freedom of worship is hampered or prevented, then usually that’s a sign of lots of other things going wrong, and we wanted to make sure that the UK is doing everything to champion the values that we all believe in.’

‘I want to make absolutely sure when I am meeting a foreign minister, a prime minister or a president in another country, and there’s an issue concerning religious freedom, and in particular the rights of Christians, I want to make sure that it is absolutely on my list of things that I need to raise.’

Mapping persecution

The five -month review aims ‘to map levels of persecution of and other discrimination against Christians in key countries around the world… to provide an objective assessment of the impact and levels of FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) support and make recommendations in this regard.’

The terms of reference also state that the review ‘will draw on leading experts to promote engagement in a wide public consultation, enabling representation from across the global Christian community.’

One of our Board members, Rev Dr Berhane Asmelash (pictured), spoke recently to a gathering at the Foreign Office about the persecution of Christians in Eritrea and his own imprisonment and torture there.

‘In meeting with the Foreign Secretary, I was encouraged by his willingness to publicly declare the magnitude of persecution against Christians,’ said Release CEO Paul Robinson.

‘We welcome this review and hope it will result in recommendations and action to positively impact persecuted Christians right where they live.’

For more information you can read a transcript of the Foreign Secretary’s speech here and the FCO Policy Paper for the independent review here.