Global Persecution of Christian Minorities
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Global Persecution of Christian Minorities
9 July @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
The persecution of Christian minorities continues to persist across the world. This issue was thrust into the spotlight following the devastating Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, where a string of co-ordinated attacks targeting churches during Easter Sunday services – killing in the region of 250 people. This followed the 2016 Easter Sunday terrorist attack in the Pakistani city of Lahore, which killed 80 people, and the 2012 Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in the northwestern Nigerian city of Kaduna, which claimed 38 lives.
By kind invitation of Sir Gary Streeter MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to examine the extent to which Christian minorities are persecuted on a global scale. This will include discussion of where such persecution is the most severe, and what the UK government can do in addressing the religious persecution of Christian minorities.
Dr. Tim Stanley is a historian, and columnist and leader writer for The Telegraph.
Dr. Matthew D. Rees has a PhD in International Politics from Aberystwyth University. He works as a Head of Advocacy at Open Doors UK, an organisation which works with vulnerable minority Christian communities in over 60 countries from the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa to South East Asia and campaigns on the international right to freedom of religion or belief for everyone.
Dr. Rakib Ehsan is a Research Fellow in the Centre on Radicalisation & Terrorism. Rakib specialises in the socio-political behaviour and attitudes of British ethnic minorities, with a particular focus on the UK’s Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups. He holds a BA Politics & International Relations (First-Class Honours), MSc Democracy, Politics & Governance (Pass with Distinction), and a PhD in Political Science, all from Royal Holloway, University of London.
Sir Gary Streeter MP was first elected to Parliament in 1992 and has held several ministerial and front bench posts. Most recently he has chaired various committees in the House of Commons. Gary have been re-elected to Parliament following the 2017 General Election. In the New Year’s honours 2019 he was awarded a knighthood for his public service.
On 9 July, the Henry Jackson Society was pleased to welcome Dr Tim Stanley, historian and writer for The Telegraph, and Dr Matthew D. Rees, Head of Advocacy at Open Doors UK, for a discussion on the persecution of Christian minorities across the world. They were joined by Dr Rakib Ehsan. The event was chaired by Sir Gary Streeter MP.
Dr Ehsan opened the discussion by reflecting how this event was inspired by the increasingly prevalent issue of Christians across the world being persecuted for their beliefs, citing examples such as this year’s devastating Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka but also earlier violence in Nigeria and Pakistan. He observed that in spite of these attacks forming part of a general global trend, violence against Christians remains insufficiently discussed. Dr Ehsan noted that this is a result of the metropolitan liberal Left’s uncertainty about Christian values. While liberal politicians see an electoral advantage in appealing to the Muslim community by rightly denouncing Islamophobic persecution, their general celebration of the decline in Judeo-Christian values makes them reluctant to denounce anti-Christian attacks in the same way.
Second to speak, Dr Rees also reflected on the ‘egregious’ tendency towards increasing violence against Christian communities across the world. He noted with regret that while in 2014 the Open Doors watch list of countries in which Christians face persecution included only one state engaging in ‘extreme persecution’, North Korea, this year the number had expanded to eleven. He argued that this was especially a problem in Asia. Dr Rees cited examples such as North Korea where Christians are frequently imprisoned in ‘gulag-style death camps’. He argued that in order to address this problem, it is crucial to move mainstream narratives away from the mistaken view that Christians around the world are white and privileged and emphasise the vulnerability of Christian communities. He expressed hope that the next Prime Minister will take firmer action to aid these groups.
Finally, the discussion was concluded by Dr Stanley who had just returned from the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. This region has been the home of Christian communities that date back to the time of the Apostles, but it has also seen occupation by ISIS and its story illustrates the increasing persecution of Christians in the region in recent years. Dr Stanley discussed how, since the Iraq War, the situation of Christian communities on the Plain deteriorated due to the presence local Islamist groups and later ISIS, which had given Iraqi Christians a choice of exile, conversion to Islam or death. While the defeat of ISIS in the region had allowed fleeing Christians to return, Dr Stanley argued that this community continued to face persecution, especially from Shiite military groups supported by Iran. He ended by citing the plea of local Iraqis that the West speak out against the persecution of Christians, without which those responsible will go unpunished.
The discussion finished with a round of questions from the audience.
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