I agree that all people should be able to freely practice and profess their religious faith and the persecution of Christians, and indeed other religious groups and minorities, is unacceptable. I know that organisations such as OpenDoors and others have highlighted instances of unfair treatment and practices, including the detention and subsequent trials of Christians peacefully gathered to worship.
Upholding human rights should be a driving force of the UK’s foreign policy and I believe the Government should use the UK’s influence to stand up for the rights and freedoms that every person is entitled to. That is why I am proud the manifesto I stood on at the recent General Election promised to introduce a Global Ambassador for Religious Freedom.
The work that OpenDoors and others do is so important in highlighting human rights abuses and reminds us all that religious freedom is still oppressed in many parts of the world.
I believe it is incumbent on the UK to consistently remind the Iraqi Government about the importance of upholding the rights of all of Iraq’s minorities, including Christians, and to encourage political and religious leaders to publicly condemn sectarian violence. With regard to Syria, I believe the UK should redouble its efforts to bring about a peaceful solution through diplomatic processes to end the civil war there, along with all the suffering that has come with it.
I hope the Government will listen to the concerns expressed by organisations such as OpenDoors and raise these matters with the Iraqi and Syrian authorities.