In the build-up to the UN’s International Day to Commemorate the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Beliefs, a leading Catholic charity has called on the UK government to step up help for those persecuted for their faith.
The UN highlight acts of violence against believers on 22nd August, and Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a charity supporting persecuted Christians, said enough isn’t being done to stop religious persecution.
Dr Caroline Hull, national director ACN (UK), said: “As the Conservative Party chooses its next leader, we at ACN implore the new Prime Minister to prioritise bringing an end to violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB).
“We receive constant distressing reports of people suffering the most egregious abuses because of their faith, including rape, murder, kidnapping and even in some instances, genocide.”
“No one should be coerced because of his or her religious beliefs, and yet this crucial human right is trampled on all over the world.”
In Nigeria alone, 2022 has seen a priest kidnapped and tortured to death, a young Christian girl stoned to death and set alight for “blasphemous” WhatsApp messages, and the attack on St Francis Xavier Church, Owo, on Pentecost Sunday, which left at least 41 people dead.
Dr Hull raised the alarm on the situation facing Christians in the African country and implored the UK government to do something to help stabilise Nigeria.
She said: “Nigerian Christians are under constant attack. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Should it descend into chaos, the knock-on effects on neighbouring countries, and the continent as a whole, will be huge, leading to massive displacement.
“Not only does the UK have a moral duty to intervene, but also a political one. In this world of radical interconnectedness, if a country as important as Nigeria fails, the whole of Europe will undoubtedly feel the effects.
“This is a pressing FORB issue that the international community needs to take extremely seriously.”
ACN will be launching Persecuted and Forgotten: A report on Christians persecuted for their Faith 2020-22 in November this year which highlights the situation for Christians in 24 countries including China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mozambique and Afghanistan.
ACN (UK)’s national director said that the publication of this report was an opportunity for members of the UK government to learn about the severity of persecution that Christians suffer.
Dr Hull said: “I hope government officials take the time to read the report.”