UK launches review into persecution of Christians globally

UK launches review into persecution of Christians globally

The UK government today launched an independent review into the persecution of Christians globally.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the review would focus especially on “key countries” in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, where the severest persecution of Christians is believed to occur.

Among them will no doubt be Iran, which was ranked the 9th hardest place to be a Christian on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List.

Article18 noted in its inaugural annual report earlier this month that there was an “unprecedented” wave of arrests of Christians in Iran ahead of Christmas 2018: 114 Christians were arrested in just one week across ten different cities, following raids on private house gatherings of Christians – known as “house churches”.

Those arrests have continued into 2019. In the past few days, Article18 has reported on the arrests of two more Christian converts: Sina Moloudian, 26, in Isfahan, and Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, 64, in Shiraz.

“The Iranian regime feels under siege,” says Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, “And with the rising unrest resultant from economic hardship as a consequence of sanctions and widespread corruption, they are cracking down on civil liberties.

“They seem to have began this campaign of terror by arresting and detaining groups that they feel most vulnerable against. This includes human rights activists, who expose injustice and corruption, and religious groups like Christians, whose continued growth exposes the weak legitimacy and broken monopoly of the theocratic state.”

The UK government’s review is set to conclude by Easter, which this year falls on 21 April.

The Foreign Office estimated that 215 million Christians worldwide faced discrimination or abuse in 2018.

Hunt said recommendations made following the review would be used to build a “cohesive and comprehensive policy response”.

“So often the persecution of Christians is a telling warning sign of the persecution of every minority,” he said. 

“We wanted to do this not just because freedom of worship is a fundamental human right, but also because freedom of worship is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies.”