The UK government works to promote freedom of religion as a fundamental human right. This is the message from Foreign Office Ministers, and from HRH The Prince of Wales, who have spoken publicly about supporting religious communities under persecution.
In an article written for L’Osservatore Romano newspaper on 10 January 2014, Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign Office and Minister for Faith, addressed the increased global threats to religious freedom. She described this as a “global crisis” and highlighted that “the UK government has elevated it to a key priority in our human rights work”. She went on to say:
We must make sure our approach is not sectarian in itself. Christians defending Christian, Muslims defending Muslims - that will not put a stop to the rising tide of religious persecution. Instead we need a cross-faith response to the problem.
Threats to religious freedom
The British Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker, in his article for L’Osservatore Romano on 21 December 2013, focussed on His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’ speech for representatives of the Christian churches in the Middle East of 17 December 2013, where His Royal Highness outlined that:
Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Prince of Wales reminded the audience of his role as a bridge builder between Islam and Christianity over many years, arguing that:
Now … is the time to re-double our combined efforts to stress what binds the three Abrahamic faiths together and, as Christians, Jews and Muslims, to express outrage at what tears us asunder.
Christian churches belong to the Middle East
During a debate in the House of Commons on 3 December 2013 on the issue of Christians in the Middle East, the Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds said:
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognises and prioritises this matter not just as a problem, but as an issue on which we must work to find solutions.
He said that we were working to ensure that those responsible for such crimes would be held to account.
When Christians are persecuted, we, as Government Ministers, speak out clearly and forcefully. I cannot stress enough how seriously the Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes this issue, as part of our commitment to freedom of religion around the world.
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