A Syrian priest prays during mass, December 25, 2018. ©Reuters / Sertac Kayar Christians are the most persecuted of any religious group and face near-genocidal levels of oppression in some parts of the world, says a report commissioned by the UK Foreign Office.
Prepared by Reverend Philip Mounstephen, the Bishop of Truro and an Anglican missionary, the report estimated that one in three people worldwide experience some form of religious oppression, finding Christians are the most widely targeted group. “Evidence shows not only the geographic spread of anti-Christian persecution, but also its increasing severity,” said the report, adding that “in some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide.”British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who commissioned the study last year, said on Friday that “political correctness” played a role in the abuses, slamming governments around the world for being “asleep” on the issue. “What we have forgotten in that atmosphere of political correctness is actually the Christians that are being persecuted are some of the poorest people on the planet,” said Hunt. The report focuses on faith-based persecution in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America – notably excluding Europe and North America.I think there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonisers,” said Hunt, apparently wishing to forestall any discussion of Britain’s colonial presence in many of the regions mentioned in the report, and its role in stoking sectarian tensions. Britain administered much of the Middle East after the First World War, for example, as well as present-day India and Pakistan. According to the Bishop of Truro, followers of Christ are at risk of being “wiped out” in the birthplace of Christianity. From 20 percent of the population in the Middle East and North Africa a century ago, that figure has fallen to just 4 percent today.Unfortunately, the word “invasion” does not appear in the interim report even once – as in, the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US-UK “coalition of the willing.” The invasion and occupation unleashed sectarian violence – including the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. The report does note that the number of Iraqi Christians fell from 1.5 million “before 2003” to about 120,000 at the present, and in Syria from 1.7 million in 2011 to below 450,000 today. With the UK and its NATO allies favoring “regime change” in Damascus, however, it is politically incorrect to point out that Syrian Christians are safe in territories controlled by the Syrian government, but persecuted in parts of the country under control of Western-backed “moderate” rebels such as the “Army of Islam” or “Front for Conquest.”