Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

11 JAN 2017

Open Doors publishes World Watch List

Steve Brine joined Parliamentary colleagues in the House of Commons on Wednesday 11th January as Open Doors published their 2017 World Watch List, detailing the 50 countries with the worst religious persecution record.

The cross-party launch, hosted by Theresa Villiers MP, heard that religious nationalism is sweeping the globe. CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland, Lisa Pearce, said: "Persecution levels have been rising rapidly across Asia and the Indian subcontinent, driven by extreme religious nationalism which is often tacitly condoned, and sometimes actively encouraged, by local and national governments."

Steve Brine, who has been a long-standing supporter of Open Doors, said: "North Korea, which has topped the list for over 15 years, remains the most dangerous place to be a Christian with an estimated 70,000 Christians imprisoned inside North Korean labour camps. However, persecution of Christians has seen the biggest rises in Laos, Bangladesh, India and Vietnam."

"Emerging superpower India, the second most populous country in the world, has seen persecution levels rise dramatically for the fourth year running, rising to number 15 this year from a ranking of 31 in 2013. Open Doors researchers have recorded over 15 violent attacks on Christians every week – and say that this is a conservative figure as many victims are too scared to report attacks, and with the exception of China, all the countries surrounding India have seen rises in persecution this year.

"There is also a huge concern in Somalia, where persecution levels are nearly as high as North Korea, where it is practically impossible to be a Christian, but thousands of Christians continue to worship, having to keep their faith secret."

An increasingly common form of religious persecution is the deliberate sabotage of homes, churches and villages by extremists aiming to eradicate Christianity from a particular area. This is widely seen in northern Nigeria, Syria and Iraq where, after people have been driven out, homes have been ransacked, churches destroyed and village water sources poisoned.

In Nigeria, cattle are deliberately stolen and crops burned to make returning all but impossible unless significant aid and investment is pumped into the area of need. In addition, frequent so called 'lone-wolf' attacks by extremists make those equipped to effect change and rebuild fearful for their safety and the safety of their families.

Steve Brine added: "I know from speaking to constituents how much they value to work that Open Doors does, and I was very pleased to be able to support this event and help them highlight the very worrying trends we are witnessing across the world."

 

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