On Tuesday 16th April, encouraged by a number of her constituents, Caroline Spelman, MP for Meriden, spoke in a debate to highlight the current trends of persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East. The debate took place in the second chamber of the House of Commons, Westminster Hall and was introduced by Naomi Long MP with the help of the Christian charity ‘Open Doors’.
The persecution of Christians in Africa significantly increased in 2012 as a result of the growing influence of Islamic extremism in countries not previously associated with persecution. Many other countries including Iraq and Syria have been plagued by a context of structural violence, in which Christians are increasingly vulnerable. Between November 2011 and October 2012 Open Doors recorded 1,201 killings of Christians worldwide, 2,121 cases of physical aggression against Christians and 280 churches or other Christian buildings.
During the debate Caroline had the opportunity to call for better protection for Coptic Christians in Egypt, highlighting the Coptic Church in Hampton in Arden as a reason for her remarks.
David Lidington, Government Minister for Europe responded to the debate saying that the Government are fully committed to promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief in its broadest sense, as defined in article 18 of the universal declaration of human rights.
Commenting after the debate Caroline said, “I thought the amazing attendance of so many MPs from all parties was such a clear indication that the steep rise in the persecution of Christians worldwide is an issue that requires more attention and I support the Foreign Office taking a firm line with governments who want to repress religious freedom.”