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Open Doors CEO says government policy must change after interim findings of review into UK response to persecution of Christians


03 May 2019

Open Doors CEO says government policy must change after interim findings of review into UK response to persecution of Christians

“The interim report is grim reading. It reinforces over 25 years of World Watch List research and is long overdue. It shows that many countries are denying their citizens the fundamental human right of freedom of religion or belief despite being signed up to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Open Doors urges the UK government to use its influence to exert pressure so that governments around the world make fundamental policy changes to ensure that Christians and other religious minorities are free to follow the faith of their choice.” Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland said today.

Speaking as the interim report of the independent review into UK government support for persecuted Christians is released today (Friday 2 May 2019), she continued: “The recent attacks on churches in Sri Lanka show that change is needed urgently. The UK government needs to work with religious leaders who stay serving in the most dangerous places. It needs to recognise, as the report shows, that vulnerabilities around faith and religion are as important as vulnerabilities around gender, ethnicity, disability or age.  

“As recently as Monday this week, armed Boko Haram members attacked the Christian community of Kuda, near Madagali in Nigeria’s Adamawa state. That evening they went from door to door, killing at least 25 people. They returned the following day as the community, supported by security agents, prepared to bury their dead. The funeral preparations were abandoned and the bereaved fled. Many more also fled the town.”

On the review, Henrietta Blyth said: “This review is particularly timely. This Easter, Prince Charles, the Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster have all denounced the persecution of Christians. Enough is enough – it is time the world woke up to the fact that persecution is happening every day. Everyone, no matter what their faith, should be free to worship without fear.”

When announcing the review, the Foreign Secretary said, “I have invited the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, to lead an independent review of whether we are doing all we can. I would like this exercise to consider some tough questions and offer ambitious policy recommendations.”

Every January Open Doors publishes its World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where the persecution of Christians is most extreme. It is produced using detailed information from 150 countries. Data is gathered on five spheres of life – private, family, community, national and church life. A sixth block, ‘violence’, cuts across all five, and measures serious ‘violence’ (including deprivation of freedom) to people or property. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a points system. Open Doors' research methods and results are independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2019 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2018.

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