The Prime Minister has responded to sustained campaigning from Open Doors supporters regarding the Hope for the Middle East campaign and the World Watch List. This led to Theresa May committing to further exploring what the UK government can do to help our persecuted church family.
Following the launch of Open Doors World Watch List last month, Michelle Donelan, Member of Parliament for Chippenham, asked whether part of the international aid budget should be earmarked for Christians suffering persecution in today’s Prime Minister’s Questions. In response, Prime Minister Theresa May spoke of her meeting with Open Doors partner, Father Daniel, from Iraq and his experience of persecution.
The Prime Minister said, “I have to say to my honourable friend this is an issue that I know is of concern to many members of this house and I was pleased, a matter of weeks ago, to meet Father Daniel from Nineveh who talked about the very real persecution that his congregation were suffering and had suffered in the past. He presented me with a Bible which was burnt, which had been rescued when a church had been set on fire.
“This is a real issue. All of our aid is distributed on the basis of need to ensure that civilians are not discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. We are working with governments, the international community and the United Nations to support the rights of minorities and to ensure our aid does reach those in need. But we will of course further explore what more support we can give to knock the persecution of religious minorities.”
This brilliantly positive response is a direct result of all the campaigning done by Open Doors supporters and staff. This has put the issue of Christian persecution much higher on the government’s priority list and has increased the pressure on the government to respond to the calls of Christians in Syria and Iraq. These calls were summed up in the Hope for the Middle East petition which was signed by over 800,000 people from all around the globe, including over 160,000 people from the UK and Ireland.
Given the great momentum that this success has brought, we now, now more than ever, need to continue to drive the message of the persecuted church forward.
The third call of the Hope for the Middle East petition asked for a prominent role for faith-based leaders in reconciling and rebuilding a future in Iraq and Syria. There is now an opportunity for this to become a reality through a forum organised by Open Doors and hosted by Lambeth Palace which will bring UK faith leaders with networks in the Middle East together with representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) so that the church leaders can speak into the UK government’s foreign policy. Minister of State at the FCO, Alistair Burt, has already promised high-level representation from the Foreign Office for these meetings.
- That this work will continue to have an impact
- That the UK government will act to bring about lasting change for our persecuted church family
- For provision, protection and strength for our persecuted church family, particularly in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East.
Continue to speak out for your persecuted church family