By John Pontifex
AN MP has told a parliamentary debate that the persecution of Christians today should be compared to the Kristallnacht attack on Jews instigated by the Nazis.
Listing “a preponderance” of anti-Christian violence, including forced conversions on pain of death, kidnappings and attacks in Christian homes, churches and businesses, Fiona Bruce MP highlighted increasing reports of “extreme persecution”, especially in the Middle East.
Fiona Bruce said: “We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror that we feel about the atrocities towards Jews on Kristallnacht and on other occasions during the Second World War.”
The Conservative MP for Congleton, Cheshire, made her comments while leading a Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
She referred to former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, quoting comments attributed to him in an interview with the Daily Telegraph where he described anti-Christian persecution as “a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked… It is the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing.” ’
Highlighting attacks on Christians especially in Iraq, Egypt and Syria, Fiona Bruce summarised the findings of the newly-released Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2011-2013 in which charity Aid to the Church in Need states that the intolerance had worsened in 20 of the 30 countries under review.
Expressing her concern about a “problem [that] has global implications, Fiona Bruce said: “The ACN report discusses how in virtually every country in and around the [Middle East], Christians report suffering either high, high to extreme, or extreme persecution.”
Later she said: “Christians in the Middle East have suffered from a domino effect of violence that began in Iraq, spread to Syria and overshadows Egypt, leaving the survival of the Church in jeopardy.”
Winning strong support for securing the debate by many of the 25 MPs who attended the debate, Fiona Bruce went on to quote cases of persecution against Christians by other organisations including Open Doors, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Barnabas Aid.
David Simpson MP said: “It is estimated that 130 countries around the world persecute Christians. Every hour, a Christian is tortured and murdered somewhere in the world.
“Surely, in this day and age, something more can be done to protect people and their faith.”
David Burrowes MP said: “The term ‘Christian persecution’ is sometimes bandied about carelessly… if there is Christian persecution in this country then at worst its victim is likely to be sued, but in the Middle East the victim will be killed. That is the stark reality that we are facing…”
Tom Geatrex MP highlighted his “significant concern” about Malaysia, saying: “Is [Fiona Bruce] aware of the recent decision in Malaysia to ban Christians from using the word ‘Allah”, which has been used in Malay as a term for God for centuries?
“It has effectively outlawed the Bible, particularly in the eastern states of Malaysia.”
Numerous MPs such as Stephen Timms highlighted problems for Christians in Iran, including Andrew Selous who highlighted the case of Farshid Fathi, imprisoned since December 2010 and serving a six-year term “simply for wanting to run a church”.
Sir Tony Baldry and Jim Cunningham MP both stressed anti-Christian persecution in Egypt, Jeremy Lefroy MP spoke of how until recently Syria provided sanctuary for persecuted Christians and others from neighbouring countries, Nigel Dodds MP highlighted the refugee crisis in Lebanon and Andrew Turner MP referred to problems in Armenia and Turkey.
Quoting a Barnabas Aid report from mid-September, Fiona Bruce said: “Western Muslims are going to fight alongside jihadists in Syria… returning home to become potential jihadists themselves.
“Western countries are not fully grappling with this problem.”
She highlighted how the persecution of Christians in the Middle East by militant Islamists is a problem with global implications which the Government in the UK must respond to.
Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire MP, responded to the debate and assured MPs present that, “Protecting human rights, including religious freedom, is an important part of British foreign policy.”
Fiona Bruce MP expressed her hope, “as a result [of this debate], we will have many more debates in the House on the persecution of Christians” to press the Government to do more to protect and help Christians being persecuted around the world.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Blessed John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 130 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 172 languages and more than 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information, contact John Newton, ACN Press Officer, 020 8661 5167.